Inexplicably, there have been zero cases in last 2 months, despite most locals not wearing masks or observing social distancing
‘Silicon City’, namma Bengaluru, has reported three Covid-19 clusters in the last fortnight – in an RT Nagar nursing college, and at two apartments of Bannerghata Road and Bellandur respectively. Understandably, the civic administration is worried that this could signal a second Covid wave, especially since neighbouring states like Kerala and Maharashtra are witnessing a fresh outbreak. But what is truly mystifying in the present situation is the fact that an earlier, and major, Covid cluster during the peak of the pandemic last year – Padarayanapura ward – has not reported a single positive case in the last couple of months.
The million-dollar question is: What turned the Muslim-dominated area into a ‘green zone’, as suggested by BBMP’s Covid-19 media bulletins?
To cross-check, TheBengaluruLive looked at the Facebook profile of local JDS leader and former corporator Imran Pasha, who was booked in May last year for violating Covid norms under the Disaster Management Act. Of all the photographs that we saw, there was surprisingly not a single picture of locals of the predominantly Muslim ward, including Pasha, wearing masks.
Going a step further, this reporter visited Padarayanapura for a first-hand confirmation of the photographs in Pasha’s Facebook page. Sure enough, a majority of locals were going about without masks and it seemed they had even forgotten the meaning of social distancing.
Pasha’s ‘immunity’ wisecrack!
Pasha laughed when we pointed out the strange phenomenon of his ward, which was once a Covid cluster, reporting hardly any positive case in recent times even though no Covid-appropriate behaviour was being observed by the locals. His response (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) was: “The immune level has been boosted in people of our ward and everyone is having healthy food.” But on a serious note, he had no explanation for the current absence of infections in the ward,
A health official of BBMP’s west zone, under whose jurisdiction Padarayanapura falls, said he didn’t remember when the last Covid-19 positive case was reported from the area. “We have the data but it is difficult to share the same when asked off the cuff. But for sure, it’s more than a month since a case has been reported from this area,” he said.
“It is very difficult task for any officer to enforce social distancing and fine people for not covering their face in an area which is a densely populated Muslim locality and which had witnessed violence against health staff conducting Covid-19 tests during the peak of the pandemic (in April last year),” an officer said on condition of anonymity.
Padarayanapura ward has a population of over 40,000 and more than 7,000 households.
243 cases, none since Dec 16
As per BBMP’s health statistics, the first case in Padarayanapura’s Arafat Nagar was reported on April 6 last year and since then it has reported no more than 243 cases. In fact, since December 16 last year, no positive cases have been reported from the ward.
Thus, the zero-cases phenomenon in a ward that has largely given the go-by to Covid-appropriate behaviour remains a mystery — for civic officials, for the local ex-corporator (notwithstanding his tongue-in-cheek ‘explanation’), and for us at TheBengaluruLive.