With Bengaluru recording 1.5 lakh active coronavirus cases, the highest for any city in the country, a few members of Karnataka Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19 have asked the state government to impose stringent restrictions, including lockdown for 14 days to break the chain. Two members of TAC however told TNM that not everyone in the committee was in favour of a lockdown, some wanted a graded response to the surge in cases.
The members of the panel have also recommended to the government to increase the number of beds to tide over the crisis. The TAC members foresee the third wave COVID in October-November and have, accordingly, insisted that the government should complete the vaccination of vulnerable age groups before the next wave hits.
Professor and Head of Lifecourse Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Giridhar Babu said, "I have on record said that there are two main strategies. Firstly, we need to reduce the number of cases and that will happen only by a stringent lockdown for at least 14 days. Secondly, we should expand the bed capacity by taking as much as possible beds from all the private medical colleges, nursing homes and hospitals."
According to him, the 14 days lockdown will reduce the number of infections.
The TAC member said the state may witness the peak of the second wave by the May end or the first week of June.
Eminent cardiologist and director of the Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, C N Manjunath said he had in November 2020 predicted the arrival of the second wave of COVID in March or April based on the pattern of spread and resurgence in Europe.
While the COVID cases may come down by May end or the first week of June, people's behaviour for the next six to nine months will hold the key.
"The most important is when the cases come down, guards should not be let down. Facemask wearing and physical distancing should continue while most importantly congregation should be banned," he said,
The health experts were of the opinion that the healthcare system is totally suffocated.
"In the first phase, the cases were coming in a staggered manner. So the daily rise in a particular state was 200 to 300 cases. Now it's in thousands," the cardiologist said.
Giridhar Babu too concurred with him.
"The BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) has informed the high court that there are no more ICU beds. So, the court has also said the situation is very scary. That will summarise the current status," Giridhar Babu explained.
Both were unanimous that the vaccination drive should be completed by October before the possible third wave hits the nation.
"Vaccination should go on. By October- November the entire country should be vaccinated. Otherwise, we are in for a rude shock again," Manjunath said.
With 26,962 infections on Friday, the state touched the highest single-day spike in COVID cases. There were 190 deaths too.
More alarming was that the active cases in the state crossed two lakh mark of which 1.5 lakh are in Bengaluru alone.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had during a video conference told the PM that the state needs about 1,500 tonnes of oxygen and two lakh vials of Remdesivir.
To contain the alarming rise in COVID cases, the state has imposed night curfew and weekend curfews while ordering closure of many shops and business establishments.