Karnataka bans public gatherings, 10 Bengaluru hotels to be COVID-19 hospitals

Karnataka Chief Minister has said that the night curfew will continue till April 20, after which further steps will be discussed.
A health worker collects sample for COVID-19 test, at KSRTC bus stand in Bengaluru
A health worker collects sample for COVID-19 test, at KSRTC bus stand in Bengaluru
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Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa held a meeting on Friday over the rising COVID-19 cases in the state and a decision has been taken to prohibit any public gatherings across the state. Indoor functions will have only 100 attendees, and outdoor functions will have 200 attendees only, the Karnataka government has decided. 

Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner Gaurav Gupta were also present at the meeting that began at 9.30 am on Friday. After the meeting, Health Minister K Sudhakar tweeted that various measures, including availability of ambulances and beds, supply of oxygen and medicines were discussed in detail. Health Minister Sudhakar also said that ten hotels in Bengaluru will be converted into make-shift hospitals and patients with mild or moderate symptoms will be moved there. Corporate sector hospitals can coordinate with nearby hotels to make temporary hospitals to treat patients with mild or no symptoms.

“Arrangements for 3,000 beds are being made for these hospitals. Government medical colleges have allotted 2,500 beds for COVID-19 patients and more beds will be allotted, taking the total to 5,000 beds. Private hospitals will reserve 50% beds for COVID-19 patients. Only people with severe symptoms should go to hospitals," Sudhakar said. The government has also directed the appointment of IAS, IPS, BWSSB, Bescom, SAST officers as nodal officials for private officials to ensure needy patients get immediate treatment.

Measures will be taken to increase the speed of COVID-19 testing so that test results are available within 24 hours without fail. Containment zone and micro containment zone will be implemented strictly. Measures will be taken to prevent people gathering in groups unnecessarily. 

Addressing the media on Friday after the meeting, the Karnataka Chief Minister said that the measures that are currently in place, like night curfew, will continue till April 20. 

"COVID-19 cases have been surging and in view of the same, we held a meeting and sought  experts' opinion. Presently, we have decided to continue with the night curfew and will decide next week as to what we can do to curb the spread. We will decide after April 20 as to what further steps should be taken,” the Chief Minister said. 

Health Minister Sudhakar also told the media that each ward in Bengaluru will have ambulances and 49 ambulances will be stationed for those who have died due to COVID-19. “We have placed a tender for 80,000 vials of Remdesivir. Private hospitals will be sent the drug as per requirement. Orders for oxygen cylinders will be made and government medical colleges have been supplied with oxygen cylinders and soon all government hospitals will have them too. We will hire contractual, medical and paramedical staff for six months and efforts to increase contact tracing are underway,” Health Minister Sudhakar added, addressing the media after the meeting.

Friday’s meeting comes two days ahead of the all-party meeting, scheduled to be held on April 18, to discuss Karnataka’s plan of action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CM Yediyurappa had earlier said that there will be no lockdown in the state, but that stringent measures will be implemented to contain the spread of coronavirus. The technical advisory committee (TAC), which advises the state government on COVID-19 measures, had recommended a ban on assembly of people in public places and had asked the government to impose Section 144 of the CrPC. 

Karnataka has been seeing a sharp surge in COVID-19 cases. Karnataka reported its highest single day spike of 14,738 fresh coronavirus cases and 66 related fatalities, taking the total number of infections to 11.09 lakh and the toll to 13,112, the Health department said on Thursday. Out of the 14,738 fresh cases reported on Thursday, 10,497 cases were from Bengaluru Urban alone. The day also saw 3,591 patients getting discharged after recovery.

On Thursday, the BBMP Commissioner announced that ten new COVID-19 Care Centres (CCCs) will be started in Bengaluru for the increasing number of COVID-19 patients. The centres will come up in hotels, hostels, private hospitals, colleges and wedding halls, and will be made operational in three days, he added. 

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