SEATTLE, Washington — Bangaluru, the capital city of India’s Karnataka state, has shown signs of maintaining the novel coronavirus. As of June 27, Bengaluru, a city with more than 8 million people, has 11,005 cases, and 180 deaths. Compared to other major cities in India, these numbers are significantly low. In Chennai, a city with a population of 7 million, there are 4 times as many cases. On June 18, Chennai reported approximately 31,100 COVID-19 cases. Here is how Bengaluru has relatively maintained the spread of the novel coronavirus.
COVID-19 in Bengaluru
From the start of the pandemic, Bengaluru administered a large number of tests, with approximately 3,000 tests per million. This was a vital step for Bengaluru in slowing the spread of the virus since almost 25% of the population lives in slums, increasing the vulnerable communities’ likelihood of contracting the virus. Moreover, researchers predict that the pandemic has the potential to push 354 million Indians into poverty.
However, Bengaluru has been successful in stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus through COVID-19 monitoring, city-wide lockdowns, and systemic changes within its health care system.
Contract Tracking in Bengaluru
Bengaluru is performing extensive contact tracing. The spokesperson of India’s largest pharmaceutical company, Biocon, stated “for every positive case, they have traced 47 contacts.” In contrast, Chennai currently traces about 10 to 15 contacts for every positive case.
Moreover, Bengaluru is also closely monitoring the sales of cold medicines at pharmacies. In April, officials instructed pharmacies to not sell certain medicines that treat cold symptoms to patients without a prescription. The government also send volunteers to pharmacies to record who was buying medicine for cold symptoms and following-up with those people to ask why they were taking those medications.
The goal of these practices is to catch the illness in its initial stages with the hopes of hindering the spread of COVID-19 in Bengaluru.
Lockdowns in Bengaluru
Bengaluru was proactive from the beginning of the pandemic. The city imposed a lockdown more than 10 days before the government imposed a national lockdown.
Even after the city reopened, some areas continue to be in lockdown. In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Bengaluru, the city made the decision to completely seal off hotspot areas in the city. There are currently 440 active containment zones in the city.
The lockdown is vital in stemming the spread of the virus. However, it also has the ability to push people further into poverty since many can no longer work. In light of this, non-governmental organizations are critical to aiding people through these times of crisis. A local NGO called Corona Warriors helps impoverished people living in slums by providing information on social distancing practices and enough food to last at least 10 days.
Modified Healthcare Systems
Bangaluru has made efforts to make its healthcare services accessible for all of its citizens. All COVID-19 patients have received free treatment despite their economic status. Additionally, the city has “COVID-19 exclusive” hospitals for patients that test positive for COVID-19, which follow a “zero billing protocol.”
Moreover, in April, a court ruled that private laboratories must provide COVID-19 tests for free to Bangaluru’s poor.
Fast and appropriate action from the government paired with support from NGOs are vital to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Bengaluru. Additionally, funding from international organizations is crucial to improving India’s COVID-19 relief efforts. On May 14, the World Bank approved a $1 billion funding to support impoverished and vulnerable Indian households negatively impacted by the virus.
Bengaluru is currently experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases due to the city coming out of lockdown. While this is concerning for some, the city has implemented the appropriate measures to handle the situation. To stem the spread of the virus in India, the government, international and local organizations and citizens need to work together to follow COVID-19 preventive measures and prevent a rise in poverty rates.