The night curfew in place till January 7, is most likely to be continued.

An empty road in Bengaluru with police barricades seen in the foregroundImage for representation
news Lockdown Tuesday, January 04, 2022 - 16:40

Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Tuesday, January 4, insisted upon special measures for Bengaluru amid an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in the city. Stating that the third wave of COVID-19 has set in, Sudhakar predicted that the state capital will be an epicentre of the latest outbreak. "Taking special steps in Bengaluru has become very necessary. Bengaluru is an epicentre. It was an epicentre in the first wave and second wave. It will be the epicenter during the third wave as well," Sudhakar told reporters.

Meanwhile, the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) which is scheduled to meet government representatives on Tuesday evening, has suggested that it is better to be early in implementing stringent measures rather than waiting. A senior member of TAC told TNM, “We have not yet asked for a complete lockdown. Instead, we have advised looking at curbing mass gatherings, including religious gatherings. We have asked for schools to not be closed just yet, given the social dilemma of how students in government schools will cope with online classes. The Test Positivity Rate (TPR) as on Monday is at 1.6% and if it increases to 2%, then malls, theatres will have to be closed.”

The official also said that the night curfew in place till January 7, is most likely to be continued. The final decision will be taken by the Home Affairs Department. “It is a logical belief that the third wave has arrived. There is no other explanation for the growth. We have not called it as such so far to avoid public panic,” he added.

Dr CN Manjunath, Director of Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research and a member of TAC told TNM that they have not asked for a universal lockdown but a staggered one instead. “We have suggested that the 50% formula should be applied wherever possible, to only allow 50% workforce etc. We have not asked for schools to be closed just yet. In places where positivity rates are high, maybe a decision can be taken to go online. That call will have to be taken later,” Dr Manjunath said.

“We have emphasised on enforcement of the decisions taken. Instead of just focussing on night-time activities, we should also curb hotspots, gatherings in the day. The third wave is going on right now,” he added.

Meanwhile, explaining the reasons behind taking special steps for Bengaluru, Sudhakar said the city has an international airport where many people arrive from abroad. Hence, we need to take special measures, the minister added. Sudhakar said the infections went up to 1.6% from a mere 0.4% in the state, of which 90% were reported in Bengaluru.

"If you look at the national figure, maximum cases are coming in the metropolitan cities. Almost 90% are in those cities. Hence, we are concentrating on Bengaluru with focus on formation of micro-containment zones and screening at the airport," the minister said.

To a query, the minister said the third wave of COVID-19 has begun. "What's the present scenario? Isn't it the third wave? For six months, Karnataka did not have 0.1% cases. If it has gone up to 1.6% on a single day, this is the beginning of the third wave," Sudhakar said.

To a query on the possibility of lockdowns, Sudhakar asked reporters not to use "strong words". "Don't use strong words like lockdown. Recently, public life is returning to normality. If we start talking about it, then it will disrupt lives," he added.

With PTI inputs