Karnataka Crosses 3 Lakh Cases; Opinion Divided On Covid Relaxations

Bengaluru: Karnataka, among the states worst-affected by the coronavirus pandemic, has crossed the three-lakh mark in the latest figures released today. This is just days after the state government removed several regulations, including medical checks and compulsory quarantine for those entering the state, that were in place to control the spread of the pandemic.
The government has said that the new relaxations were being introduced to remove the “fear among the people” and make things easier for travellers.

“It is the way forward. I think this is the time to unlock, understanding the challenges. The travellers should not face any inconvenience. There are check mechanisms also in place. We have ramped up the tests from earlier 10 or 20,000 to 75,000. There is a lot of screening happening, better understanding among the people, precautions being taken. Most people are aware – and any kind of unease among them can be understood by them. And they can go for a test,” Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Ashwath Narayan, told NDTV.

He, however, made it clear that COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing of positive cases will be strictly implemented across the state.

“The state has been enforcing social distancing, wearing of masks, hygiene. Many other aspects have been insisted upon,” he said.

“At the same time we have been tracing primary and secondary contacts. Wherever cases have been reported, we are going for intensive screening also. We have not given up precautions or the care to be taken. But wherever possible we are trying t give relaxations. It has been causing a lot of fear and there has been a lot of restriction in the movement. We wanted to build confidence among the travellers,” the minister added.

But not everyone agrees with the move to ease entry into the state.

Dr Ravi Kumar, head MICR at Sagar Hospitals, told NDTV

Lifting of restrictions is good for interstate movement of goods and services impacting the supply chain – which has resulted in disruption of economic activities and employment and supply of services. But this comes at a time when the corona numbers are actually increasing in Karnataka. Considering the number of cases which is increasing day by day, I think lifting these travel restrictions between states that are more affected than Karnataka is not a welcome move at all.

Dr Vishal Rao, Associate Dean – Research and Academics, HCG Cancer Centre Bangalore also felt that the lifting of restrictions was a knee jerk response to economic pressure. ” Economy of health seems less important than the health of economy. We rose in numbers in Karnataka because we imported the virus from neighbours. We now need to brace for impact,” said Dr Rao, who is also a Member of the Expert Committee – Covid Task Force of the Government of Karnataka

However, many in the government, including Medical Education Minister, Dr K Sudhakar, said that the state was capable to deal with the pandemic.

“In line with

PM Narendramodi’s
mantra of “Lives & Livelihoods,

Karnataka has opened up more economic activities even as we fight the virus. Bengaluru is the most open city in India amidst pandemic & I thank CM @BSYBJP for his firm decision that lockdown is not the solution,

he tweeted.

Dr Ashwath Narayan also told NDTV there was absolutely no question of looking at herd immunity.

“We are not getting into herd immunity,” he said.
“We have been trying to very aggressively control, restrict. We are still in tracking, tracing, testing, admitting. We are doing this aggressively. We are not going for herd immunity. It is very difficult to go for herd immunity in our state and our country. Because if at a time everybody gets infected , how do we handle. It is very difficult to handle,” he said.

Karnataka has consistently figured for weeks now in the list of top five states in India in terms of total number of cases and number of new cases.

In the latest data released today, the southern state recorded 8,580 cases, taking the total number of cases to 3,00,406. Over 5,000 people have died due to COVID-19 related complications in the state so far.

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