Karnataka will undertake a series of aggressive containment measures in state capital Bengaluru as the number of coronavirus cases has risen rapidly, indicating community spread. The city will ramp up testing to 7,500 samples per day from now even as it has decided against reimposing a lockdown.
"There is no question of a lockdown under any circumstances; although we have done this in some places, we are not in favour of it everywhere. Reviving the economy is equally important," said Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Friday.
While a section of opposition MLAs agreed that the price of an unplanned lockdown has already weighed heavy on the state, some felt a second lockdown for a few days might make a big difference in curbing numbers.
"Our stand is to save as many lives as possible. We are aware of the fact that community transmission has begun. What did Spain or Italy or other countries do when this happened there? They locked down for two weeks," said Congress MLA NA Haris, speaking to News18 after an all-party meeting of Bengaluru MLAs.
"But the state government had already decided against a lockdown, so we have given suggestions such as increasing the number of beds and ventilators," he added.
The government said increasing health infrastructure to meet the growing numbers and stricter enforcement of social distancing and mask-wearing norms are the only way forward.
"Each of the 28 Assembly constituencies will have a joint commissioner-rank nodal officer from tomorrow," said R Ashoka, Bengaluru's Covid in-charge minister. "Senior IAS officer Tushar Girinath is deputed to take care of allotting beds. There is no shortage of beds but coordinated allotment is needed. Now it takes 24 hours to take a patient to a health care centre once found positive; we need to reduce that to eight hours."
All asymptomatic patients will compulsorily be moved to a Covid care centre for isolation. Ayurvedic supplements to improve immunity levels will be given. The government also plans to set up swab collection kiosks in all 28 Assembly constituencies, while there will be 100 ambulances dedicated for Covid-19 patients -- one for every two wards.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has collected over Rs 5.6 lakh in penalty from people who violated the mask rule, as well as social distancing norms, in the last 48 hours. There will be more levying of fines in the coming days as the government plans a major crackdown.
There are over 1,300 active Covid-19 positive cases as of now and "the next 30 days will be critical for the IT city", said Ashoka.