Karnataka has consistently featured among the top 5 states with the highest number of new daily coronavirus cases and deaths for the past few months, and there seems to be no let-up in the surge. However, state-run Covid Care Centres have started closing as asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients are now allowed to isolate at home. This has left the administration with a tonne of inventory on which crores were spent after much political back and forth.
Among the Covid Care Centres that are closing down is a multi-crore 10,000 bed facility at the sprawling BIEC exhibition centre on Tumakuru Road on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
It was inaugurated by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and presented as one of the ways the state government was responding to the Coronavirus surge.
The BIEC Centre had faced its share of controversy as Opposition leaders questioned why the BJP-led state government was spending on hiring facilities - paying about Rs 800 per day per bed - when it would be cheaper in the long run to buy the items?
The government then went ahead and bought most of the items.
Authorities now say the beds, linen and other items bought for the 10,000-bed facility would be used in government hostels and institutions.
"Some things we had rented and will be returned, others will be used; it is not like it will be thrown on the road," Bengaluru Mayor Goutham Kumar told NDTV.
The statement comes as more and more asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic Covid patients have start isolating at home because of an increased understanding of the course of treatment.
"Number of home isolations is more. Patients are now aware of how to isolate at home because of social media. They prefer it over institutional care at Covid Care Centres. They are well-versed with how take medicines, home sanitization and steam inhalation," Mr Kumar said.
Karnataka has had a multitude of treatment rules since the Covid outbreak in India. In May, the state had made hospitalization compulsory for all Covid patients but then revised it. It set up Covid Care Centres amid amid shortage of hospital beds for critically ill patients as cases continued to rise over the various phases of unlocking the economy.
The state reported 9,540 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours taking its total case count to 4.21 lakh cases with almost 6,800 deaths.