With surging COVID-19 cases, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said on Monday the government has decided to ban all kinds of protests in the state for 15 days from Monday, as he ruled out any lockdown for now.
Asking people to cooperate by wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing, he said officials have been instructed to take strict measures against those not wearing masks from Tuesday itself.
The chief minister reviewed the COVID situation in Bengaluru city and other important districts along with senior ministers and officials of his government.
"COVID cases are rising in Bengaluru at an alarming rate, which is a cause of concern. Daily average cases are around 1,377 and positive cases are 16,921 in the last 14 days," Yediyurappa said.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, he said tracing, testing and treatment is being strengthened.
"In order to contain the disease, I appeal to the public to observe proper COVID restrictions and avoid crowding, otherwise it will become extremely difficult to bring the situation under control," he warned.
Health Minister K Sudhakar, Revenue Minister R Ashoka, Education Minister Suresh Kumar were among the ministers present at the meeting in addition to top officials.
Neighbouring Maharashtra was witnessing more than 40,000 cases every day, while in Karnataka it is now about 3,000 and about 2,000 in Bengaluru, the chief minister said.
Ruling out closure of schools and colleges for now, in response to a question, he said no gathering of people in the name of protests and demonstrations will be allowed in the state for 15 days, and strict measures will be taken with regard to marriages and events following the guidelines in terms of number of people attending.
Regarding the by-election related rallies, he said "we will not allow big gatherings, and strict instructions will be given in this regard soon."
Noting that infections were reported more in the age group of 20-40, Yediyurappa said "mortality rate is low and and most of those cases are 60 years and above group."
He said up to 60,000 tests were being done in Bengaluru city, and 6.61 lakh people have been vaccinated in the city.
Sufficient hospital beds were available, the chief minister said.
COVID care centres with 100 beds each have been set up at HAL and Haj Bhavan and a 250-bed centre also will start operations from April 5 at Koramangala indoor stadium in the city. In addition, private hospitals have been asked to be prepared to reserve beds for COVID patients.
Stating that there was no shortage of funds for COVID management, Yediyurappa said Rs 150 crore has already been released and if required, more funds will be released.
"It is a relief that the COVID numbers are low in slums, but it is increasing in apartments, and special vaccination drives are being planned for apartments," he said.
Instructions will be given to control parties or events there, the chief minister added.
He said the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Siddaramaiah has written to him on containing the second wave of COVID-19 in a scientific way and by not imposing any lockdown that may impact normal life and it was also discussed in Monday’s meeting.