14-day lockdown in Karnataka to curb spread
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Friday announced a complete lockdown from 6 am on May 10 to 6 am on May 24 as Covid-19 cases surge in the state and its capital, Bengaluru.
“The second wave of Covid-19 is creating havoc across the state and the “corona curfew” imposed in the state has not yielded expected results in reducing the infections and death rate. Therefore, the government has decided to impose stringent measures to check the spread of the disease and deaths,” Yediyurappa said on Friday after a series of meetings with senior cabinet ministers and officials in Bengaluru.
The new restrictions are not very different from those that are already in force now as essential shops and establishments will be allowed to remain open from 6 am to 10 am.
The announcements added to confusion as the chief minister and chief secretary contradicted each other that could add to more clarifications or addendums in the coming days like the last time around.
“Not a lockdown, these are restrictions,” chief secretary P Ravi Kumar said, minutes after a briefing by Yediyurappa.
“Difference (between existing restrictions and newly announced ones) is that daytime vehicle movement will not be allowed,” Kumar added.
The state government, which had hesitated to use the word lockdown, has now resorted to it after the earlier imposed restrictions yielded little or no results to contain the surge in the state.
The decision comes on a day when Karnataka reported 592 Covid-related fatalities, of which 346 were in Bengaluru. The fatality rate reached 1.21%, according to the daily bulletin of the state health department.
The state recorded 48,781 new infections that take its active case count to 536,641. The positivity rate was at 30.28%, according to the bulletin.
Bengaluru appears to be plateauing with infections remaining steady; 21,376 new cases take the city’s active case count to 341,978. The death toll in India’s IT capital rose to 7491.
The improvisation of restrictions comes even as the Yediyurappa-led administration scrambles to get its act together after failing to prepare for the second wave of infections in the state as warned by the government-appointed technical advisory committee (TAC) in November.
Members of the TAC had repeatedly sought for a complete lockdown to get some semblance of control over the virus in Karnataka.
“Partial implementation of the restrictions and partial containment will defeat the purpose of both the objectives,” said Dr Giridhara R Babu, epidemiologist and professor at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and a member of Karnataka’s TAC.
Yediyurappa has grappled more with managing his ministers and their expectations than combatting the virus, according to multiple persons aware of the developments, that adds to the odds.
Meanwhile, the inadequate health infrastructure in the state crumbles, hospitals have run out of beds or are being sold for hefty prices in the black market along with life-saving medicines and shortages of oxygen is being reported from across the state.
The Supreme Court on Friday said it “will not put the people of Karnataka in the lurch”, and turned down a plea by the central government seeking a stay on a Karnataka high court order that directed it to immediately increase the supply of medical oxygen to the state from 962 metric tonnes (MT) per day to 1,200 MT per day.
The Centre’s move to get a stay on the order added to the challenges of the state government, that has come under severe criticism for its handling of the pandemic from the opposition as well as from within its own party.
“Karnataka needs 1600-1700 MT of oxygen to treat its patients. But @PMOIndia has allocated only 965 MT. Supreme Court has saved the lives of many patients by dismissing the appeal made by @BJP4India . #OxygenCrisis,” Siddaramaiah, former chief minister and leader of the opposition in Karnataka, said in a post on Twitter.