Bengaluru’s COVID-19 war rooms scaled down, turned into surveillance cells

The COVID-19 Control Room at the BBMP head office in Bengaluru.  

Zonal war rooms, nerve centres of the city’s response to the second wave, have now been scaled down. Once teeming with hundreds of telecallers and executives on every shift, they now wear a deserted look with less than 20% of the staff strength compared to during the second wave.

At the peak of the second wave, these war rooms, tasked with telephonic triaging of patients and bed allotment, also came under flak over allegations of a bed blocking scam, triggering a set of reforms. However, with caseload low now, the BBMP has shifted to physical triaging and bed allotment is no longer being done. Hence, the role of these war rooms has completely changed.

Staffed with two epidemiologists, they are now tasked with surveillance and predictive analysis of emerging trends of COVID-19 in their zones. “The surveillance has helped us make an early intervention in emerging micro-clusters in wards. These rooms are not only monitoring wards reporting more cases, but also those reporting very few, trying to analyse reasons for this. In many wards, interventions like micro containment zones or increasing testing have paid off well,” said D. Randeep, Special Commissioner, Health, BBMP.

Presently, the BBMP has deployed only two telecallers per shift at each of the zonal war rooms to handle severe cases, which are also rare these days. “We have not cancelled the contracts with the private firms who ran war rooms during the second wave. We have deliberately kept it low key and at skeletal staff, but have kept the option to scale these war rooms back to its prior capacity if the caseload in the city shoots up. While we are doing physical triaging now, we will be forced to revert to telephonic triaging if cases rise to unmanageable levels again,” Mr. Randeep said.

Only one among the 16 fired got job back

Only one of the 16 Muslim youths fired from their jobs - hours after Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya read out their names during an ‘expose’ of an alleged bed-blocking scam on May 4 - got back his job. After running pillar to post for over two months, the youths now seem to have given up any hope of justice. While a few have got new jobs, the rest are still searching.

“The MP read out our names without any evidence of our involvement. We faced a police probe and not one of us has been arrested in the bed-blocking scam. But we have been punished for our religion alone,” lamented one of them. “The company paid only for five days that we worked in May, there was not even a severance pay. It was not our mistake that we couldn’t work that month. We were unfairly taken out,” said another.

Their employer, Crystal Infosystems and Services, had claimed they were not fired, but taken out of deputation pending inquiry. However, despite all of them clearing a police probe, only one of them was taken back. With the war rooms being wound down, most of the jobs have disappeared and contracts of hundreds of others too have been terminated over the last two months, the company sources claimed.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 1:18:15 AM |

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