An extension of Karnataka’s lockdown after June 7 still hangs in the air as the Covid-19 caseload and positivity rate remain high. No decision has been made on the issue by the state government so far but a .concrete one is expected by June 4 or 5.
The state logged more than 14,000 new cases on Tuesday and 464 deaths, the third-highest in the country after Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Last week, scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) had suggested that an extension of the lockdown beyond Monday might be necessary as actual active case numbers remain higher than projected figures and need to be lower if the surge is to be contained.
With the state government slated to announce its decision in the next few days, here’s what officials have said on the issue so far:
Ayes for extension
The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended to the government to extend the lockdown at least for one more week.
While several ministers have expressed their opinion in favour of the lockdown, a few have suggested that it should be rolled back slowly.
The state’s Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai took a firmer position on lockdown measures, saying on Saturday that they should be kept in place for the entirety of June as rural areas remain a point of concern.
He mentioned that the Union Home Ministry had suggested stringent measures should be in place till June 30. Bommai had also brought up the issue of the state’s high positivity rate and caseload. He had said that the positivity rate stood above 10% and needed to be below that threshold, while new cases would have to dip below 10,000 for the state’s health infrastructure to sustain the load.
Batting in favour of the lockdown, Revenue Minister R Ashoka said discussions are on and the Chief Minister will take a decision based on expert opinion.
“Based on expert opinion and positivity rate a decision will be taken. In Delhi cases (daily) have dropped below 1,000 after lockdown, in Bengaluru it is still around 5,000 and Karnataka’s figures stand at around 20,000, it has to come below 500 in Bengaluru and 2,000-3,000 cases in the state,” he said, adding it was not appropriate to open up without the numbers coming down.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Saturday signalled his willingness to ease the lockdown if people “cooperate” with the government but said the decision would be made keeping in mind the rate of decrease of cases and how the situation plays out in rural areas of the state.
Yediyurappa had also said he was confident cases would decrease in the days to come.
The state’s deputy chief minister Ashwath Narayan on Tuesday also echoed the likelihood of unlocking in a phased manner after June 7, saying it was a “guarantee” that the process would begin next week but a decision on the specifics of the process remains to be made.
Health minister K Sudhakar on Tuesday said that the lockdown should be eased in a staggered manner, adding that the Covid-19 technical advisory committee (TAC) had advised that restrictions could be eased once cases settle below 5,000 per day and positivity falls to 5%.
Sudhakar also said the state government had decided to set up paediatric wards in all district hospitals as it prepared to face a possible third wave of the virus.
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