India

Talks on with experts to decide on lockdown extension, says Karnataka minister

Talks on with experts to decide on lockdown extension, says Karnataka minister
The nationwide lockdown enforced to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus ends on April 14 (File/Express photo by Janardan Koushik)

No decision has been taken on extension of the 21 day lockdown in Karnataka but the state government is holding talks with health experts to decide on a course of action when the lockdown period ends on April 14, a senior minister in the BJP government in Karnataka said on Tuesday.

“Karnataka government has not taken any decision on extension of the lockdown. But there are talks with health experts like Dr Devi Shetty and Dr C N Manjunath and we are discussing with them about the way we should move forward. No decision has been taken for extending the lockdown as of today,” school education minister S Suresh Kumar said.

A report from the experts is expected in a few days and this would be used in decision making on the extension of the lockdown, the minister said.

The minister indicated that with 12 of 30 districts in the state having no incidence of Covid 19 infections and with three hotspots in the state having no fresh cases in many days the government may consider different options for different parts of the state.

Secretaries appointed by chief minister B S Yediyurappa to look at infrastructure and resources set aside for tackling Covid 19 in all the districts of the state would also provide reports before a decision is taken on extension of the lockdown, Suresh Kumar said.

“There are secretaries in charge of each district and they have visited their districts in the last week of March and this week they will go again – they have two responsibilities one is to assess the efficacy of responses to the coronavirus epidemic in each of the districts and the second is to decide if sufficient resources are in place in case of incidence,” the minister said.

In 12 of the districts there has been no effect of the coronavirus and in a “few hotspots like Gauribidanur, Nanjangud and Bhatkal there have been no new cases and this is a good development,” Kumar said.

Ahead of taking a decision on a week long social distancing shutdown on March 13 to combat the coronavirus the BJP government lead by B S Yediyurappa had consulted experts like cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Shetty and president of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association, Dr R Ravindra.

The experts had recommended stopping all public gatherings and congregations, citing the way cases rose in Italy, Spain and China and suggested social distancing to flatten the curve of Covid 19 infections before they spike in order to prevent a deluge of infected patients from emerging at the same time and over running the state public health care system.

When the shutdown was extended to March 31 by chief minister Yediyurappa on March 19 the government had consulted experts who warned the state on the need for containment and capacity building measures by referring to infection projection models which suggest that as many as 80,000 people will get infected with virus in the state in around two week.

As of Tuesday the state has reported 175 Covid 19 positive cases including four deaths and 25 discharged patients with 12 cases being reported on Tuesday. Among the 12 new cases six are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz held in Delhi last month.

“Samples of 920 Tablighi Jamaat persons has been taken and out of this 623 are negative while 27 are positive and remaining results are awaited,” minister Suresh Kumar said.

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