Bengaluru bans rallies, public functions till April 20 amid rising COVID-19 cases

Bengaluru reported 4,266 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.
A health worker wearing mask and gloves collecting nasal swab from a man for coronavirus test
A health worker wearing mask and gloves collecting nasal swab from a man for coronavirus test
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In the wake of rising COVID-19 cases, the Karnataka government has banned public gathering in large numbers and other activities to contain the virus spread, a top police official said on Tuesday. "Rallies and demonstrations for any purpose by any group are prohibited across the city till April 20 to strictly comply with the COVID-19 appropriate behaviour," said city police commissioner Kamal Pant in an order here.

As epi-centre of the pandemic in the southern state, Bengaluru registered 4,266 positive cases on Monday, taking its COVID-19 tally to 4,55,025, including 32,605 active cases and accounted for 26 of the 39 deaths due to the virus. "Public functions and group prayers or any type of celebration in places of worship are also banned till April 20 to check the infection," said Pant.

As notified by the state chief secretary on Sunday, gyms and swimming pools will be allowed to function with only up to 50 per cent of their capacity at a time to ensure physical distancing and prevent crowding. "Pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants will function with 50 per cent occupancy to ensure COVID-19 appropriate behaviour like wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, hand sanitisers and thermal screening," asserted Pant.

The order has also directed shopping malls, markets, department stores, cinema theatres to ensure strict compliance of the guidelines and ensure their customers or visitors follow the COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.

Meanwhile, 49,646 people, including 20,725 senior citizens and 28,058 above 45 years were vaccinated during the day. Over 48-lakh people have been vaccinated so far amid surging COVID-19 cases in Karnataka, said state health minister K Sudhakar on Tuesday.

"Over 48 lakh people, including 23-lakh senior citizens above 60 years of age and 10-lakh above 45 years of age have received the jab across the state since the vaccination drive was launched on January 16," Sudhakar told reporters here.

According to the state health bulletin, 49,646 people, including 20,725 senior citizens and 28,058 above 45 years were vaccinated on Tuesday.

Cumulatively, 46,44,731 people, including 23,05,461 senior citizens and 10,80,361 above 45 years have received the shot till Monday across the southern state since January 16.

"Karnataka is in the sixth position across the country in the vaccination drive after Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal," said Sudhakar, who is a medical doctor by profession.

The state received an additional 15 lakh doses of vaccines on Monday for inoculating its citizens against the virus.

"Of the 15-lakh additional anti-COVID-19 vaccines, 10 lakh are for Bengaluru region and 5 lakh for Belagavi in the state's northwest region," said Sudhakar.

Ruling out vaccine shortage in the stare, Sudhakar said steps have been taken to ensure sufficient supply of the doses to all eligible people, including senior citizens and above and 45-59 years of age.

"We have 12 lakh dosages in stock after vaccinating 45 lakh people across the state since the drive was launched on January 16," said the minister.

Admitting that mortality among mid-age group in the state was a cause of serious concern, Sudhakar said he had directed the technical advisory committee of health experts to conduct a death audit in the state.

"The pandemic's second wave is spreading faster than the first wave across the country, with over a lakh cases registered on Monday. We cannot predict the severity of the situation now though we are prepared for it," asserted the minister.

"We have reserved 33,697 beds in government and private hospitals for COVID-19 cases across the state. Of them, 15,733 are oxygenated and 10,083 have been reserved for the virus cases," reiterated Sudhakar.

The state government directed private hospitals to reserve 20 per cent of their beds for COVID-19 patients. More beds will be arranged across the state if cases increase in the coming days.

Noting that vaccine would reduce the severity of the infection, the minister said vaccination was preventive but would not give total immunity from the virus.

"As people who did not get vaccinated are getting admitted into ICUs, I urge all eligible people across the state to take the jab at the earliest as the dosage only reduces the severity of the infection," affirmed the minister.

Cautioning people against underestimating the scale and speed with which the virus was spreading in its second wave, Sudhakar said the state could face bed shortage if new cases increased drastically in the coming weeks.

"The state health department is in talks with private hospitals to reserve beds for COVID-19 treatment. The technical advisory committee of experts has advised to consider the pandemic seriously till May-end to contain the second wave and save lives," Sudhakar pointed out.

The committee hinted that Bengaluru will have 6,500 cases a day if the virus spread is not contained at the earliest.

"If we do not contain the virus spread, surge in new cases will be inevitable," added the minister.

(With inputs from IANS)

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