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Karnataka: Covid curbs will not be eased until situation reviewed on 20 April, says health minister

A medic wearing a PPE kit collects a swab sample for the COVID-19 test amid the rise in cases, in Bengaluru. (ANI)Premium
A medic wearing a PPE kit collects a swab sample for the COVID-19 test amid the rise in cases, in Bengaluru. (ANI)

K Sudhakar said that guidelines have been issued on the advice of the technical advisory committee consisting of experts, after examining the situation, and if things are under control by April 20, activities will be allowed to resume

Amid the novel coronavirus surge in the state, Karanataka Health Minister K Sudhakar on Saturday hinted at the fact that there will be no relaxation in the new set of fresh guidelines issued by the state government on Friday to curb the spread. The clarification came amid pressure from various sectors to ease restrictions for the business to run properly.

However, the state health minister also said that guidelines have been issued on the advice of the technical advisory committee consisting of experts, after examining the situation, and if things are under control by April 20, activities will be allowed to resume, according to news agency PTI.

To be sure, the fresh guidelines will be in force in the state till 20 April, as per the order issued by chief secretary P Ravi Kumar.

"The government is not happy by restricting activities. I have been requesting through the media for the last one month that a second wave is at our doorstep and if we don't understand and take precautionary measures, the government will have no other options and may have to take serious measures," Sudhakar said, reported PTI.

Speaking to reporters here, he said Karnataka was the first state to resume all the business activities, but the state is today reporting about 5,000 cases per day and 3,500 of them are from Bengaluru alone. "The technical advisory committee has said this will be there for another two months, till the May end and the graph will start declining from June first week. If we don't take measures and something untoward happens, won't it be the government's responsibility?" he asked.

Noting that the government has issued guidelines after getting several reports from the technical advisory committee, and after consulting senior officials and ministers, Sudhakar said it was not done at one go. "People from several sectors are saying their activities should not be restricted and should go on freely. Yes, we (govt) too understand, but things should not go out of our control, so it was inevitable for the government to take certain strict measures. We request for cooperation from everyone," he said.

The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce has decided to meet Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to bring to his notice about the impact of capping the seating capacity in theatres at 50 per cent, on the industry, and is likely to seek relaxation so that it doesn't impact films that have just been released. Also, gym owners have demanded the government to reconsider the decision or allow them to operate with 50 per cent capacity or announce a package so that they can make payment for staff and use it for maintenance. There is pressure from some private schools to allow them to function, similar is the demand from gym, swimming pool and club owners, also people want to hold marriages with large gatherings, the Minister informed reporters.

"These measures are not permanent, let's follow these temporary measures for some days... I'm not saying it (Covid- 19 spread) can be controlled 100 percent by these measures, but we can try to bring things under control," he said. Responding to a question, the Minister said there are guidelines for elections, and religious places too, there is no concession for any sector or activities. "The government is only trying to control this pandemic that's all, there is no politics or any malicious intent behind this," he said, as per PTI report, as he evaded questions on night curfew or weekend lockdown stating that he doesn't want to speak on what measures will be taken in the future.

Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Karnataka government on Friday issued a fresh set of COVID-19 guidelines to curb the virus spreading in the state.

According to the notification issued by the state government, Classes from 6-9 will be suspended, gyms, swimming pools to remain closed, rallies, dharnas prohibited, and a maximum 50 per cent seating capacity in cinema halls will be allowed.

It also stated that no gatherings will be allowed at places of worship.

"Classes 10,11 and 12 can continue in the existing mode, however, attendance at these classes in person is not mandatory. Classes of higher and professional courses shall be suspended, except classes due for Board/University examinations of Health Sciences.

Residential and Boarding schools shall be closed, except for the students of Classes 10,11, 12, and for students of higher and professional courses. The number of persons in public transport, shall not exceed the seating capacity. The practice of work from home shall be followed in offices and work places as far as possible," the letter said.

In the districts of Bengaluru Urban and Rural including BBMP, Mysuru, Kalburgi, Dakshin Kannada, Udupi, Bidar and Hubali-Dharwad, the number of customers in pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants shall not exceed 50% of the capacity.

In Cinema halls, alternate seating subject to a maximum of 50 per cent seating capacity only shall be allowed in the districts of Bengaluru Urban and Rural including BBMP, Mysuru, Kalburgi, Dakshin Kannada, Udupi, Bidar and Dharwad.

In shopping malls, closed markets, departmental stores, etc strict enforcement of COVID Appropriate Behaviour(CAB) like ensuring wearing of masks, physical distancing, provision of hand Sanitizer shall be enforced."

If there is any violation, the facility shall be closed till the pandemic is over, warned the guidelines.

Karnataka reported 4,991 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to 10,06,229. 1,631 people have been discharged in the said period.

With 9,59,400 total discharge cases, the state reported six deaths due to the virus in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, the total active cases in the state stand at 34,219.

With agency inputs

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