Karnataka Forest Minister Umesh Katti had attended a function held by the Forest Department in Belagavi, where he did not wear a mask.

Karnataka minister Umesh Katti speaking to reporters without a mask on, amid a large crowd
news COVID-19 Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - 17:16

At a time when Karnataka is experiencing a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic driven by the Omicron variant, and the government has imposed restrictions, a BJP minister in the state was seen without a mask at a public meeting on Tuesday, January 18. Forest Minister Umesh V Katti had attended a function held by the Forest Department in Belagavi, where he did not wear a mask. In a video being widely shared on social media, the minister is heard saying that he “didn’t feel like wearing a mask”.

He is also heard quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to justify his stance. “Yesterday, the PM himself said that he will not make anything mandatory. It is the individual’s responsibility to wear a mask. In that way, it is left up to me too. I didn’t feel like wearing it (a mask), so I didn’t wear it,” Katti said. His remarks have drawn outrage as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to be on the rise in Karnataka, and as the government gears up to handle the situation.

On Monday, Karnataka reported 27,156 fresh COVID-19 infections and 14 deaths, taking the total caseload and fatalities in the state to 32,47,243 and 38,445 respectively, the Health Department said. Karnataka had reported 34,047 cases and 13 deaths in the state on Sunday. With the decline in cases compared to Sunday, the test positivity rate too dropped from 19.29% to 12.45%. The case fatality rate was 0.05%.

In its daily bulletin, the Health Department said that 7,827 people were discharged, taking the total number of recoveries to 29,91,472. The active cases stood at 2,17,297.

Bengaluru Urban district led the spike in cases in Karnataka, with 15,947 infections and five deaths. Other districts too recorded fresh cases, including 1,770 in Mysuru, 1,147 in Tumakuru, 1,050 in Hassan and 784 in Dharwad. There were three deaths in Dakshina Kannada and one each in Chikkaballapura, Dharwad, Kalaburagi, Ramanagara and Tumakuru. There were zero fatalities in 23 districts.

A total of 2,17,998 samples were tested in the state, including 1,81,136 RT-PCR tests on Monday, taking the cumulative number of specimens examined so far to 5.92 crore. There were 2,16,816 inoculations done taking the total vaccinations so far to 9.17 crore, the department said.