The Karnataka government on Thursday said Bengaluru is still ‘safe’ compared to the COVID-19 situation in other cities and states and ruled out fresh lockdown for now, putting to rest speculations that it was planning such a move in view of spike in cases.
The government also changed quarantine rules and exempted those travelling to the state from Tamil Nadu and Delhi from three days of institutional quarantine. But those coming from Maharashtra will have to continue be under seven days institutional quarantine.
“There will be no lockdown in Bengaluru. It is clear, no lockdown in Bengaluru,” Revenue Minister R Ashoka said after a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and attended by senior Ministers, including himself, and officials.
There will be only containment zones in the city and regions that have a large number of cases will be sealed, he told reporters here.
The Chief Minister has issued directions to officials to prepare for any situation that may arise in future due to the pandemic, Ashoka said.
Replying to a question, he said for now there will be no lockdown in the city, but hastened to add that the future cannot be predicted.
His statement came amid intense speculations in the past few days after some ministers said the government may have to consider re-imposing the lockdown, eased in phases from the middle of last month, in view of continuing spike in new cases in the past several days.
A total of 1,678 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the city as of Wednesday. This includes 78 deaths and 475 discharges.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the state which stood at 3,408 as of June 1 has crossed the 10,000 mark on Wednesday with the capital city topping the districts in the infection count.
“Compared to other states and cities, Bengaluru is still safe”, Ashoka said, adding that the government was taking all measures to control the spread and even prime markets in the city were recently sealed.
He pointed out that the recovery rate in the state was 61 per cent and active cases were only about 3,700.
Earlier on Thursday, Yediyurappa asked people to cooperate by following the measures that are in place for controlling the spread of COVID-19, if they don’t want another lockdown in the city.
The Chief Minister said he will hold discussions on Thursday and Friday with top Ministers and officials on the strict measures that need to be put in place to contain the virus.
He has also convened a meeting of MLAs and MPs of all parties from Bengaluru, which will also be attended by Ministers and senior officials of the government, to seek their suggestions in the fight against COVID-19.
On the changes in quarantine rules, the Minister said three days institutional quarantine will no longer be required for people coming from Delhi and Tamil Nadu and they will have to go for 14 days home quarantine like those traveling from other states.
There will be no change for those coming from Maharashtra and they have to undergo seven days institutional quarantine followed by seven days of home quarantine, he said.
On other decisions taken at the meeting, Ashoka said it was resolved that patients would be shifted to designated hospitals or COVID Care Centres within six to eight hours of testing positive.
He said asymptomatic patients will be shifted to COVID Care Centres and those with symptoms to designated hospitals.
Aimed at ending the shortage of ambulances, the Minister said, 100 ambulances, whether private or government, have been kept ready in Bengaluru.
A meeting with private medical colleges and hospitals woud be called soon to get 50 per cent (about 5,000) beds from them for treatment of COVID patients, he added.
It will be ensured that there is a realtime update on the availability of beds and a senior IAS officer would oversee the allotment of beds, he said, adding a dashboard would be created for this.
“There are reports that some patients are waiting for bets, it will be cleared by tomorrow evening,” the Minister said.