Karnataka

Call for extra caution during festival weekend, bypolls

The Congress campaign for the bypolls under way at Amingad in Bagalkot district on Tuesday.

The Congress campaign for the bypolls under way at Amingad in Bagalkot district on Tuesday.

While COVID-19 experts have warned that the coming four weeks are crucial for Karnataka, they are now concerned that this long weekend due to festivals (Ugadi and the start of Ramzan) followed by the bypolls will only trigger a steep rise if people do not follow the standard guidelines of SMS (Social distancing, Masking and Santisation).

While some experts suggest that the State may consider a weekend lockdown and night curfew as done in Maharashtra, members of the State’s Technical advisory Committee (TAC) said a weekend lockdown and night curfew have a limited role in reducing the speed of transmission.

Concerned by the surge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has convened a meeting with Chief Ministers of various States on April 8. The State on Tuesday reported 6,150 new cases of which 4,266 are from Bengaluru Urban alone.

TAC chairman M.K. Sudarshan said people should strictly avoid travel to their native villages during the festival season. “Based on our recommendations, the Government has already issued an Order prohibiting large gatherings and public celebrations of festivals and fairs. This should be strictly enforced,” he said.

“People should follow precautions, stay home and avoid non-essential travel. Following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour is in your own interest. Protect yourselves as well as your children,” he said.

C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said Ugadi is a festival where people usually go out of the city to their villages. “But now, they should realise that they can either carry the infection there or bring it back with them on return. What is the need to visit native places when you can celebrate in a simple manner here itself,” he asked.

V. Ravi, nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka, suggested that the State government consider a weekend lockdown and night curfew as done in Maharashtra, especially this long festival weekend. “This is my personal suggestion as people are not listening or following government orders. They do not seem to understand the gravity of the current situation,” he said.

However, Giridhar R. Babu, who heads Lifecourse Epidemiology at the Public Health Foundation of India in Bengaluru, said a weekend lockdown and night curfew have a limited role in reducing the speed of transmission.

“It will only create a sense of responsibility among people that if they do not listen, the government will be forced to impose drastic measures,” he said.

A top health official said the government has to go step by step if the need arises for a weekend lockdown. “First containment zones should be notified and strict perimeter control should be enforced. If this does not help, then Section 144 should be imposed followed by area restrictions/seal down. The government can think of partial lockdown, night curfew and total lockdown only after these measures,” the official added.


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Printable version | May 22, 2022 11:04:27 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/call-for-extra-caution-during-festival-weekend-bypolls/article34257858.ece