Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in Bengaluru, hospitals have been directed to admit only patients with moderate or severe symptoms. Mild and asymptomatic cases are to be referred to COVID-19 care centres or encouraged to stay in home isolation, the government said Saturday.
In its notification the government said: "moderately and severely ill COVID-19 patients are sometimes unable to get admission... in this context, it would be prudent to admit moderately and severely ill patients, both government and private, and encourage asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients to get admitted in COVID care centres or be in home isolation".
Bengaluru has seen a major spike in cases this month, with total numbers crossing 25,000 late Friday evening. Both Bengaluru Urban and Rural districts have been locked down for a week starting July 14.
On Friday Bengaluru reported 2,208 new cases. On Thursday the city reported 2,344 new cases and 1,975 on Wednesday.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has ruled out extending the lockdown, despite requests from the Bengaluru municipal corporation to do just that. Instead, the Chief Minister has announced a slew of measures to track, test and treat COVID-19 patients, especially those above 65 years of age.
Among these measures are plans to make more effective use of available hospital beds - which means ensuring that only those who are seriously affected by the virus will be admitted.
The lack of beds in the city has been compounded, the government said Friday, by privately-run hospitals not yet delivering the 5,000 beds they'd promised.
"We spoke about increasing ICU and oxygen beds. We will also be talking to all medical colleges for creating COVID wards; private hospitals had promised 5,000 beds but haven't given any yet," R Ashok, the revenue minister, said.
Worryingly, given the rate of increase, the 5,000 beds, when delivered, might still not be enough to treat (and contain) those infected by the virus.
The increase in cases is also putting pressure on medical resources like ambulances, with several people, including those positive for the virus, being forced to wait for hours for one.
Earlier this month K Sudhakar, the medical education minister, said any vehicle would be suitable to take asymptomatic patients to a COVID care centre. He also claimed, back then, the government was expecting a surge post the lifting (or easing) of lockdown measures and that "there is no need to panic".
Across Karnataka, over 55,000 cases have been confirmed, including 33,211 active cases and 1,147 deaths linked to the infectious virus.