Karnataka cabinet to take call on lockdown today
Karnataka minister for large and medium industries
Jagadish Shettar said on Sunday that the government is deliberating if it has to go in for a complete lockdown as a measure to contain the Covid-19 surge in the state and its capital, Bengaluru.
Chief minister BS Yediyurappa has already put in place a night and weekend curfew which has now turned into an almost lockdown-like situation in the southern state, which is among the worst-hit regions in the ongoing second wave of the pandemic.
“There are discussions going on if we should have curfew on other days as well. There are discussions to impose a complete lockdown or not,” Shettar told reporters.
Yediyurappa will chair a cabinet meeting on Monday to discuss if the state will go into a lockdown and other Covid-related issues, at least two people aware of the developments said.
“We also do not want to go in for a lockdown but the situation is such that if we don’t put restrictions, the people will not come under control,” Shettar said.
“Earlier we had a lockdown for three months, this is about 8-10 days and we have to break the chain,” he added.
The statements come on a day when Karnataka and its capital registered 34804 and 20733 new infections, highest single-day spike,. The positivity rate in Karnataka reached almost 20% in the 24 hours on Saturday, raising concerns on the rapidly deteriorating health crisis in India’s IT capital and the rest of the state.
Bengaluru accounted for 77 out of the 143 fatalities reported on Sunday.
The active cases in Karnataka stood at 262,162, of which Bengaluru accounts for 180,542, according to the daily bulletin of the state health department.
Almost all 30 districts of Karnataka reported at least a 100 new infections with just Gadag and Haveri registering 76 and 99 cases. Kodagu, the coffee growing district of Karnataka, registered 1077 new infections while Tumakuru reported 1153 cases, indicating the extent of the spread in the second wave, which is expected to peak in the first week of May. An analysis by Hindustan Times has estimated Bengaluru will report around 25,000 cases per day by the beginning of May.
The Yediyurappa-led government faces criticism for making little or no preparations to deal with the surge in the second wave despite clear warnings provided by the technical advisory committee (TAC) in November last year.
Though Yediyurappa had categorically denied that there would be no lockdown in Karnataka, his government has imposed lockdown-like restrictions in Bengaluru and across the state, which allow only shops and industries dealing with essential services to operate and prevent movement of people. The restrictions have added to the air of uncertainty in Karnataka and its capital as small traders, businessmen and others are unsure of when things would return to normal nor have any clarity on if the administration will provide some financial relief for the losses due to the closure.
The government, in an addendum to the existing guidelines, said that the number of people allowed for a funerals and cremation will be less than five.
K Sudhakar, Karnataka’s health, family welfare and medical education minister, said on Sunday that the chief minister will have to take a call on announcing compensation packages, if any.
The surge has also resulted in an acute shortage of hospital beds in Karnataka and Bengaluru with less than 40 intensive care unit (ICU) and those with ventilator beds available in India’s IT capital.
“(The) government is mulling to set up modular ICU and ventilator beds at Victoria and other teaching hospital campuses,” Sudhakar said. He added that around 85 beds in one building on Victoria campus and 180 beds in PMSSY will be reserved for Covid. “Along with this 100-150 bed makeshift hospitals will be set up. Makeshift hospitals will also be set up on other suitable medical college hospital campuses,” he added.
The minister said 5000 portable oxygen generators for Bengaluru and 1000 each for all districts will be provided. “75% of the beds in all private medical colleges will be reserved for Covid-19. 2000-3000 additional beds will be set up in makeshift units at all government hospitals within 15 days,” he said.
He also added that the Centre has allocated 1,22,000 Remdesivir to the state and increased daily allocation of medical oxygen from 300 MT to 800 MT.