With Fewer Than 200 Active Covid-19 Cases, How Has Bangalore Flattened the Curve?


With Fewer Than 200 Active Covid-19 Cases, How Has Bangalore Flattened the Curve?

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Most cities in the country, and across the world, have struggled to contain the coronavirus outbreak, reporting both a high number of cases, as well as an increased strain on the healthcare system. But for one metropolis, with a population of over a crore people, things don’t seem to be that bad.

As Bangalore begins phase 1 of mission “Unlock” on June 1, the city had recorded only 385 positive cases, a tiny figure when compared to Mumbai’s 40,000 and Delhi’s nearly 20,000 cases. Of this already low number, about 200 patients have been marked as recovered, and just over a hundred cases remain active.

The city is now looking to open up its malls, pubs, restaurants, and places of worship starting June 8. While the rules don’t apply in the city’s 36 containment zones, which will remain under lockdown until June 30, this again puts Bangalore way ahead of its peers, Delhi and Mumbai, which are still struggling to curb the spread of the virus.

The city’s municipal commissioner has been reported as saying that the city’s success boiled down to its early and effective lockdown. Schools were ordered to close on March 13 in Karnataka’s capital, while bars and eateries were closed the next day, nearly two weeks before the nationwide lockdown was imposed.

The fact that authorities strictly implemented the three Ts — trace, test, and treat — during this period is also said to have worked wonders. As a result, the state’s test positivity rate (the number of positive cases per 100 tests conducted) stayed at 1 per cent, much lower than the national average 5.

A report in the Quint, meanwhile, points out that another factor that helped keep the case numbers low was that the state’s health experts were given free reign to take decisions without political interference. “In Karnataka, the driving force (against Covid-19) was the health department. We never had an instance where they turned down our suggestions,” an ICMR official was quoted as saying.

The report also adds that authorities got the containment zones right, and also used technology to give them an advantage with contact tracing.

An official with a Covid-19 task force indicated that another reason for the city’s success had to do with the way its residents followed the lockdown. “The lockdown has helped immensely with 75-80 per cent of the population adhering,” the official said.

The city, officials indicated, was well on its way to successfully flattening the curve earlier this month — the announcement came as early as May 13 — even other cities were still reporting a large number of cases.

Still residents remain cautious about reopening completely. The government’s plan to open schools as early as July has been questioned by a number of parents, who want cases to reach zero before they allow their children outside.

Maybe it’s this caution that has spared Bangalore the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Or maybe it boils down to how well authorities have done to contain the disease. Either way, the city’s success story seems to be one worth celebrating.