As COVID cases rise in Karnataka with Bengaluru peaking at over 20,000 on 26 April, scenes of anguish are being witnessed at hospitals across the state. There are no more hospital beds available, and COVID patients are lying on pavements gasping for breath and crying for help.
Bidar Institute of Medical Sciences at Bidar, Karnataka, had patients overflowing as they lay outside, lining the sidewalk.
“We are trying to augment the infrastructure also in terms of increasing the beds, general beds and ICU too. We will take some more time to do it. In the meantime, we have equipped our taluk hospitals also.”Dr K Sudhakar, Health Minister, Karnataka
Die on Road, Sleep on Pavements
In Bengaluru, a COVID victim died on the road, while another died in the car in Kalburgi. Reason, no availability of beds.
The plight of a non-COVID patient seems equally worse. A six-year-old, Prajwal died at Kalaburagi because he was not given treatment after meeting with an accident.
“We are from Ballari. We came to Kalaburagi to visit the Sharanabasaveshwar temple. As we were heading back, we stopped to take a break. The child was standing near the car. An Innova car hit him and sped away. The time was around 2 am. We went to Sunrise Hospital. They said there was no ventilator. We went to Basaveshwara Hospital. There was no ventilator. The ambulance broke down. We arranged another ambulance. We went to Vatsalya Hospital. We got the same answer,” said 6-year-old Prajwal’s relative.
Health Infrastructure Collapse
Day by day, health infrastructure in Karnataka seems to be collapsing under pressure from COVID-19 caseload. Enter ESI Hospital in Bengaluru, patients are seen seated on the hospital floor receiving IV treatment.
A mother was spotted outside KIMS Hospital in the city. She was waiting for six long hours with her ailing daughter in the ambulance before meeting a doctor.
Jagannath was a cab driver in Chikmaglur. He set out to Bengaluru, post the first wave of COVID, in search of a job, so he could take better care of his wife and fund his daughter’s education. He died for lack of oxygen.
“My husband was seriously ill. No hospital was ready to admit him. All of them insisted on his COVID report. I was running around. We went to three to four hospitals. Some hospitals demanded money from Rs one lakh to Rs two lakh. One of the doctors at a hospital prescribed some medicine and asked us to come back with the COVID report. My husband suffered a sudden heart attack. He was breathless. If he had access to an oxygen cylinder, he could have survived,” said Jagannath’s wife.
According to COVID response team in Bengaluru, every volunteer receives at least 1,000 calls a day with pleas for hospital beds, another 200 calls demanding remdesivir injections. Four to five hospitals in the city have sent back patients from the ICU, citing lack of oxygen supply. Is the Karnataka government unmindful?
Former health minister Sriramulu and forest minister Anand Singh were recently seen violating government guidelines by campaigning for their Municipality candidate in Ballari district.