NEWS
20/07/2020 2:33 PM IST | Updated 20/07/2020 2:46 PM IST

Bengaluru: Govt Clarifies On Lockdown Extension, Over 2,000 New Cases Reported

BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar has been transferred and replaced by N Manjunatha Prasad.

MANJUNATH KIRAN via Getty Images
A health official takes a swab sample from a patient at a COVID-19 point set up by Bangalore municipality on July 17, 2020.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Bengaluru continues to surge with the Karnataka capital reporting 2,156 cases and 36 deaths on Sunday. This is the third successive day with over 2,000 cases in Bengaluru, which was hailed for its early success in containing the pandemic, The News Minute pointed out. 

Bengaluru is under a lockdown currently, which is set to end on 22 July. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had announced a lockdown in the capital from 14 to 22 July in view of a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases. 

Amid speculations, the government has dismissed the possibility that the lockdown will be extended beyond 22 July. 

No extension of lockdown

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Commissioner Manjunatha Prasad said on Sunday that there was no question of extending the lockdown. 

“The Chief Minister has made it clear that the lockdown will not be extended for any reason, after Tuesday there will not be any lockdown. We will follow the government’s orders. There is no question of lockdown,” N Manjunatha Prasad was quoted as saying by PTI.

Yediyurappa had on Friday said lockdown was not the solution for controlling Covid-19 and that there was no proposal before the government to extend it.

BH Anil Kumar was on Saturday removed as BBMP commissioner and appointed the Additional Chief Secretary in the Department of Public Enterprises. Prasad, who was the the BBMP commissioner before Kumar’s appointment, was brought back. 

The transfer came after Kumar on Friday said that in his personal opinion, a lockdown for 15 days would be good because that much time is required to break the chain. 

Dr Krishnamurthy Jayanna, Associate Dean of Research and Professor at Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, told HuffPost India that extending the lockdown beyond 22 July is not necessary. 

“While it helps to get a breather and prepare ourselves, from a health systems point of view, we cannot unduly extend it as it is not sustainable or evidence based. Rather, we have to get accustomed to living with the virus in the environment, and protect ourselves with the measures indicated,” he said.

Until there’s a vaccine, he said multiple strategies — like sustaining the personal protection and isolation measures, testing the population, admitting the vulnerable in the hospitals, training families to manage the mild/ moderate cases at home — should be tried. 

Other experts had told HuffPost India earlier this month that laxity in adhering to physical distancing norms after the lockdown period and the lack of preparedness by authorities to deal with the continuing rise in cases contributed to the surge in cases. 

The cautious approach that Bengaluru had once adopted was discarded once the country began exiting from the national lockdown, Professor K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) had said, adding that that crowds started gathering at shopping areas and political, social and religious gatherings involved large numbers and close contact. 

“People flowing into Bengaluru from other parts of the state and country also added to virus transmission,” he said.

Krishnamurthy Jayanna also said when the lockdown was lifted, it could have been more gradual. “This was the time to prepare for what was to follow. We missed out on this opportunity, as a result of which, there is tremendous pressure on the hospitals/ providers now, both in the public and the private sector.”  

BBMP commissioner Prasad also told The Times of India in an interview that Bengaluru did very well during the lockdown, but didn’t think about the steps needed for the subsequent phase. He said he plans to use the “election method” in containing Covid cases. “I will further decentralise everything to the assembly constituency and get every MLA actively involved in their respective constituencies. I think we will be able to handle the situation better this way,” he told The Times of India

Covid-19 cases still rising

As of 20 July, 63,772 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Karnataka and Bengaluru has a total of 31,777 cases.

The Indian Express pointed out that Bengaluru alone has reported about half of the total cases in the state. 

The Karnataka government has said that inter-state travellers are responsible for the surge in Bengaluru cases. State Minister for Medical Education K Sudhakar said told PTI that there was no community transmission of the pandemic, adding if it were to be the case, the number of infections would be running into ‘lakhs’.

Sudhakar said that when the lockdown was eased, people from various parts of the country, including high prevalence states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, came to Karnataka. “As you know, Bengaluru is a cosmopolitan city. So from every nook and corner people came here. When they came they were not mindful of what they were supposed to do (health precautions, apparently) and they spread the infection,” PTI quoted him as saying.

(With PTI inputs)