Lockdown in Karnataka should continue till Covid cases drop below 5,000: Ministers
Karnataka health minister Dr K Sudhakar on Tuesday said stringent measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 would remain in place in the state till daily new cases fall below the 5,000 mark or the case positivity rate drops below 5%.
Sudhakar’s statement comes a day after the state’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) made a similar recommendation to the government.
Talking to reporters in Bengaluru, the health minister said: “I have submitted the report (to chief minister B S Yediyurappa). He (chief minister) has said that it (positivity rate) has to come down to 5% and (new cases) 5,000 cases per day, only then we can relax (the lockdown). Until then, it would be good to continue with these stringent restrictions. Whenever we unlock, we have to do it in a phased manner. It (daily cases) has come down as much as TAC wanted. We have to be cautious.”
On Monday, TAC in its recommendation to the government had said that the lockdown should continue till the test positivity rate falls below 5%. The committee prepared a report in which it suggested that the lockdown should be observed for two more weeks after June 7 until the daily new cases fall below 5,000 and the case fatality rate falls below 1%.
The committee unanimously drafted the recommendations with its chairman M K Sudarshan saying that the panel is “placing lives before livelihoods”.
The daily Covid-19 case count in Karnataka fell to less than 20,000 in the state and to less than 5,000 in Bengaluru Urban district on Monday with around 1.2 lakh to 1.3 lakh tests being conducted every day. The test positivity rate recorded on Monday was 13.57% and the case fatality rate was 2.47%.
Deputy chief minister and state Covid task force head Dr Ashwath Narayan also echoed similar views as the health minister, saying that the government would take a feasible decision with regard to the continuation or easing of lockdown restrictions based on experts’ opinion and facts and figures.
“There is a possibility of the positivity rate dropping down if testing is done in 1:10 ratio (for each positive case, 10 contacts to be tested). But whatever the case, the decision with regard to lockdown will be taken by the government after considering experts’ opinions and thorough discussion,” he said.
Meanwhile, left-wing parties in Karnataka organised a state-wide protest on Tuesday, demanding better policies from the state government to ensure the livelihood of the unorganised sector is not hampered in case of an extension of the lockdown.
“The state’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee on Monday had recommended that Karnataka continue the lockdown in a stricter form, thus ‘placing lives before livelihoods’. While the state government has to strengthen public health systems and ensure the people of Karnataka overcome the toll that the pandemic is having, it is also equally important that livelihoods are protected. People should not be left at the mercy of the state and their dignity must be upheld,” read a statement by CPI(M) Liberation.
Workers from the unorganised sector, including street vendors, construction workers, pourakarmikas, sanitation workers and rural landless labourers, participated in the protest across Karnataka, including Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru and Ballari.
The CPI(M) statement also demanded that treatment and medicines for Covid-19 patients and vaccination be made free for workers in the unorganised sector. They also demanded a direct cash transfer of ₹10,000 and free rations and “special protection for frontline and healthcare workers” and an employment guarantee for 200 days in the cities.