Karnataka rules out night curfew but may impose curbs on New Year celebrations

Karnataka rules out night curfew but may impose curbs on New Year celebrations
TOI
Bengaluru, The Karnataka government on Friday indicated it is likely to impose curbs on public celebrations ahead of the new year, while ruling out the possibility of night curfew for now, amid an experts' panel report expecting a second wave of COVID-19 in early 2021. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for COVID-19 in the state has indicated the possibility of the second wave of the pandemic during January-February, and has recommended to ban new year public celebrations the last two weeks of this month till January 1 and to impose night curfew in the period.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa in response to a question from reporters about the possibility of imposing a night curfew said "..there is no such plans for now."

Health Minister K Sudhakar along with officials today held a meeting with TAC members on their advisory/recommendations to control the second wave.

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Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Sudhakar too said, there was no question of any curfew as there is no need for it now.

But people will have to follow the guidelines like social distancing, control unnecessary large gatherings at places including marriages, he said.

Responding to a question on new year celebrations, especially at places in Bengaluru where large numbers of people gather, he said, not only Brigade or MG Road, TAC has said that in the entire state from December 20 to January 2, all kinds of events have to be prohibited, and a decision on this will be taken soon.

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"When the government appointed TAC has given advice we will have to take it seriously. We will discuss with the Chief Minister and announce our final decision," he said.

On opening of pubs, bars during these days, the minister said a decision will be taken after going through the report and discussing with senior officials and consulting the Chief Minister.

The TAC, consisting of expert doctors and specialists, was constituted in March and from then till now it has held 54 meetings.

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The committee has made a slew of recommendations in a bid to avert a crisis emerging out of the possible second wave after studying a similar outbreak in various places across the world.

The TAC has said the next 45 days were crucial and mentioned about the need to take certain control measures that were taken during the lockdown and unlock phase during the period, he said.

Until there is a clear vaccine, all the precautionary measures and guidelines need to be followed, he asserted.

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As of December 3 evening, cumulatively 8,89,113 COVID-19 positive cases have been confirmed in the state, which includes 11,821 deaths and 8,52,584 discharges.

Sudhakar said the first wave of COVID-19 in the state was declining as the positivity rate has now come down to 1.2 per cent and the reproduction number (R0) has also come down to 0.46 per cent.

"So the first wave's curve has flattened... the gap between the first curve and the second curve is about 40-90 days, when we look at other countries or states..," he said.

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The TAC has asked the state to keep ready by first week of January, clinical facilities at October level (when daily cases were about 10,000 per day) in terms of beds, ICUs, ventilators, and so on, both in government and private hospitals or this could be ramped up at a short notice of 2-3 days maximum.

Noting that a minimum of 1.25 lakh tests per day should continue till the end of February 2021, of which one lakh shall be RT-PCR ( 1:5 pooled in lab as per state protocol), the TAC has recommended fortnightly testing of all teachers, pupils, and staff in educational institutions, Anganwadi staff, and others by RT-PCR.

On opening of schools and pre-university colleges, the minister said a decision is likely to be taken during a meeting under the Chief Minister's leadership in December third or fourth week.

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Conceding that a large number of people are gathering at political events ahead of gram panchayat polls in the state, Sudhakar said "we politicians and also all the political parties need to understand their responsibilities."

"Regarding panchayat polls I had written to the state election commission informing about the TAC's view that the polls may lead to door delivery of virus. If the elections were not held till March certain things could have been controlled.

The Commission and courts had to take this seriously," he said.

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The state election commission has announced polls to 5,762 gram panchayats in the state in two phases on December 22 and 27, after the High Court recently providing three weeks time, had asked it to announce the schedule.

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