3,000 covid infected go 'missing' in Bengaluru, to be traced by police: Minister

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(Eds: Adding quotes, changing headline and slug) Bengaluru, Apr 28 (PTI) Posing another challenge to the already overburdened system tackling the covid crisis, about 3,000 infected people have gone missing in the city and many have switched off their phones, prompting the government to task the police to trace them.

Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka claimed that the missing people are spreading the disease, in a state that has seen the positive cases skyrocket in the past few days.

On Wednesday, the southern state recorded its highest single-day spike of 39,047 cases and 229 deaths, with Bengaluru Urban logging 22,596 of those infections.

Ashoka said police have been asked to trace the missing people. However, the police remained tight-lipped on their strategy to track the 'missing' individuals.

Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said the issue of the infected going missing has been going on for the past one year.

'We are giving free medicines to the people, which can control 90 per cent of cases, but they (covid-infected people) have switched off their mobile phones.' 'They reach hospitals in a critical stage, desperately looking for ICU beds. This is what is happening now,' Ashoka told reporters.

He said most of the infected people have switched off their phones and are not letting people know about their whereabouts, which is making things difficult.

'I feel that at least 2,000 to 3,000 people in Bengaluru have switched off their phones and left their houses. We don't know where they have gone,' he added.

Appealing to the infected people to keep their phones switched on, Ashoka said police have been asked to track them.

'I pray to them with folded hands that covid cases will only increase due to this (behaviour). It is wrong when you reach for ICU beds at the last moment,' the minister said.

Agreeing with his cabinet colleague, Sudhakar said this problem has been going on for the past one year.

'At least 20 per cent of the patients do not respond to our phone calls...police will track them in their own way,' Sudhakar said.

'Some switch off their phones, some migrate to other states and some do not answer the calls,' the Minister added.

To stem the spread of the contagion, happening at an alarming pace, the state government has imposed a 14-day lockdown starting Tuesday, restricting unnecessary movement of people.

There were 3,28,884 active cases in the state on Wednesday, with 2,192 of them receiving treatment in the Intensive Care Units (ICU) of various hospitals.PTI GMS SA APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR