Any decision on re-imposing lockdown in the city in view of surging COVID-19 cases will be taken only after consulting experts, several Karnataka Ministers said on Wednesday, amid speculations that the government is planning such a recourse.
A day after setting off a debate saying the government may have to consider lockdown, Health Minister B Sriramulu maintained that if the cases in the city continued to increase, the matter would be discussed with the expert committee, with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and a decision would be taken.
"We have an expert committee, and if the cases continue to increase, we will discuss with them, with the Chief Minister and take a decision. The Central government will also be consulted," he told reporters in Bengaluru.
As part of unlock-1 from June 1, Karnataka has further relaxed lockdown curbs and allowed various activities.
Evading a direct answer on whether there should be a lockdown or not, the Minister said more tests must be done in the city, where 1,678 cases of COVID-19 have been reported so far. This includes 78 deaths and 475 discharges. The number of COVID-19 cases in the state which stood at 3,408 as of June 1 has crossed the 10,000 mark on Wednesday with the state capital topping the districts in the infection count.
Concerned over increase in COVID-19 cases in the city, Yediyurappa on Monday had directed officials to implement lockdown measures strictly in certain clusters which have reported greater number of coronavirus infections.
The city's busiest K R Market and Kalasipalya Market have been sealed for 15 days by the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) as part of measures to check the spread of the deadly virus.
Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday said that considering if the government should lock down the city once again was an important issue.
At a time when coronavirus cases were increasing, the decision has to be taken keeping in mind COVID management, economic activities that were taking place, and the economic situation of the government. "Extensive discussions are taking place about lockdown. The Chief Minister is every day reviewing the corona situation in the state. He is holding meetings with senior officials and gathering information," he said.
Yediyurappa will take a call whether it should be taken up at the Cabinet or at the COVID task force meeting.
Some reports suggest that a decision on lockdown is likely at the cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday.
Noting that there were apprehensions among some experts that community spread might be happening, Rural Development Minister K S Eshwarappa said the cabinet was likely to discuss the issue on Thursday.
Tourism Minister C T Ravi said the government had been taking decisions on lockdown based on the experts' report and also taking the opposition into confidence. "This time, too, any decision will be taken based on the expert's report," he added.