Home / News / India /  Inadequate healthcare in smaller districts add to covid-19 crisis in Karnataka

BENGALURU: Covid-19 cases in the districts of Karnataka, excluding Bengaluru, has almost doubled to 3638 per day on 28 July from 1935 per day on 21 July, triggering concerns it may strain the already inadequate infrastructure in small towns and rural areas and dent the state's battle against the virus.

These districts contributed over 62% of the total 31,168 cases across Karnataka in the last seven days. Bengaluru accounts for nearly 38% of the total cases in the state, according to government data.

Experts said the steady rise in cases has added to concerns that the crisis will hit these small towns and rural areas harder. “In the next phase, the surge will be felt in other places which have limited manpower," said Giridhar R Babu, professor and head of life course epidemiology at the Public Health Foundation of India and a member of the state covid-19 task force.

Decades of widening regional imbalance aside, the excessive focus on Bengaluru by the B.S. Yediyurappa-led state government and its entire administrative machinery is unlikely to help troubles in other districts that have much poorer healthcare infrastructure.

The mineral-rich district of Ballari reported 2393 new cases over the last one week that takes its total to 5382 of which 3181 are active.

The entire district has just 204 vacant hospital beds out of the total 798. Another 437 hospital beds are not yet in service. There are only 941 vacant beds out of the 1320 beds at covid care centres (CCC) to treat asymptomatic persons, data shows.

Kalaburagi has 4778 cases of which 2396 are active, while Dakshina Kannada has 5098 cases in total of which 2642 are active that adds to growing concerns of how these districts will manage the surge with limited healthcare infrastructure.

Though several states in the country have followed a similar model centred around one large urban centre, the situation couldn’t be more profound than in Karnataka whose entire economy and expenditure revolves around Bengaluru.

The excessive focus on Bengaluru has left little for other districts, especially in terms of healthcare infrastructure. The health department has no consolidated data on hospital beds available in districts outside Bengaluru, according to officials from the department.

The death toll in these districts have also gone up in the last seven days, accounting for 354 out of the total 591 fatalities, data shows. Data also shows lower testing in these districts.

Testing in Bengaluru is around 7120 per million in the last 10 days as against 4395 in Kalaburagi, 4190 in Ballari, 2807 in Dharwad, 1928 in Belagavi among others, according to data from the covid-19 war room.

Senior government officials aren’t sure how it will cope with the imminent rise in cases. Added to the problems is the unwillingness of people to come forward on their own to declare symptoms.

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