Bengaluru fell far behind Chennai in containing COVID-19 mortality: Study

The city also added positive cases and active cases at a faster pace than Chennai

May 29, 2021 10:18 pm | Updated 10:18 pm IST

The two mega cities of South India – Bengaluru and Chennai – may be separated by barely 350 km from each other, but the difference in COVID-19 mortality between the two cities, particularly in the second wave, has been quite stark.

During the 90-day period between February 25 and May 25 this year, Bengaluru Urban recorded 7,397 COVID-19 deaths while Chennai registered 2,401, which is only about a third of the country’s IT capital. This, despite the elections to Tamil Nadu Assembly held on April 6.

According to a comparative analysis carried out by Project Jeevan Raksha, a public private initiative by Proxima, a management consulting firm, with technical support and guidance of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Bengaluru also added positive cases and active cases at a faster pace than Chennai.

If the total positive cases in Bengaluru raced to 11,31,496 on May 25 from 4,04,628 on February 5, at a scorching moving growth rate (MGR) of 180%, Chennai’s total cases reached 4,87,691 on May 25 from 2,35,005 on February 25, at a MGR of 108%.

Surge in numbers

Similarly, the active cases in Bengaluru went up to 2,19,551 on May 25 from 3,887 on February 25, registering a MGR of 5,548, while the corresponding numbers for Chennai were 47,553 on May 25 and 1,780 on February 25 with a MGR of 2,572.

A year ago, on May 25, 2020, the number of people dying due to COVID-19 in Bengaluru was 10 while in Chennai it was 87, recalled Mysore Sanjeev, convener of Jeevan Raksha. But, a year later, 11,863 people had died in Bengaluru urban while in Chennai the figure stood at 6,546.

He added that Bengaluru was compared with Chennai in terms of “population and eco-system”.

Citing the reasons for difference in pandemic management in the two cities, Mr. Sanjeev said the Tamil Nadu government had recognised that critical medical infrastructure and resources were needed and equipped the city to manage the surge. Also, Tamil Nadu is the only State in India to stick to 100% RT-PCR, the gold standard for COVID-19 testing, ensuring both “quantitative” as well as “qualitative” testing in Chennai. But in Bengaluru, the number of tests were reduced when the cases surged, he pointed out.

“Our study indicated that one in every five persons, who had died due to COVID-19 in Bengaluru Urban, had succumbed on the day of hospitalisation itself,” Mr. Sanjeev claimed, while adding that the fear of exorbitant hospitalisation charges was pushing people to delay treatment.

“Despite being the IT capital of the country, Bengaluru failed to put in a robust process and system for hospitalisation, which created major bottlenecks in clinical management especially in the second wave. Another major issue in Bengaluru was the interference and high-handedness of local politicians in the administration,” said Mr. Sanjeev.

He said intimidatory tactics adopted by local MP and MLAs against the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) staff had demoralised the entire administration, which was working round the clock to improve the situation, he said.

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