Lockdown in Karnataka likely if cases continue to rise, says Health Minister

After repeatedly stating that there will be no lockdown in the State, Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar on Wednesday gave an indication that there will be no other option for the State other than a lockdown if the number of COVID-19 cases further go up.

Speaking to reporters after a programme organised by the Health Department to mark World TB Day, the Health Minister said despite repeatedly appealing to the people to behave responsibly and follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour, many are still not bothered about wearing masks or maintaining social distancing.

“If the cases further go up, we will have no other option. It will become inevitable for not just me but the Chief Minister too to consider a lockdown. Several States have already imposed a lockdown/partial lockdown,” the Minister said. “That is why we are seeking people’s support and hope they will cooperate with us in containing the spread.”

On the new guidelines issued by the Union government regarding containment zones, the Minister said a meeting will soon be convened to discuss the implementation of guidelines. “We have experience in identifying containment zones and maintaining them. We will strictly follow the Centre’s guidelines,” he said.

Film promotions

Pointing out that the government can only come out with rules and regulations, Mr. Sudhakar said it is up to people to follow them. “It is unfortunate that even people who are aware of the situation are not following protocols. Several public functions are being held for film promotions where crowds gather. These people are all those who know the situation well and it is their responsibility to take precautions,” he said.

The Minister appealed to cinema stars and religious heads to avoid large gatherings and ensure COVID protocols are followed in such gatherings.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday advised States to consider imposing local restrictions in public observation of festivals and limit or do away with mass gatherings.

“With festivals such as Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Bihu, Easter and Eid-ul-Fitr coming up, States can impose local restrictions in exercise of powers conferred under Section 22 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005,” stated a letter by Arti Ahuja, Union Additional Secretary (Health and Family Welfare).

Fresh guidelines

Following this, the State Health Department is all set to issue fresh guidelines for festival celebrations in a day or two. Health Commissioner K V Trilok Chandra told The Hindu that the Union Ministry’s letter will be discussed with the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). “Following that we will issue new guidelines in a day or two,” he said.

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