The Karnataka government faced embarrassment as well as political heat on Friday as five of the 121 persons, who had been shifted to Ramanagaram district jail after they allegedly indulged in vanadalism in Padarayanapura in Bengaluru last week, tested positive for COVID-19 . While the patients have been shifted to a government hospital, others were shifted to the Haj Bhavan in Bengaluru.
There was palpable anger in Ramanagaram against the State government for lodging those undertrials in the district, which hitherto had earned the distinction of being a green zone with no case of COVID-19.
With the undertrials from Bengaluru having tested positive, Ramanagaram has lost out on benefits allowed to rural industries in green zones of being able to resume operations. The relaxations were announced earlier in the day.
Former chief minister H. D. Kumaraswamy, whose Assembly constituency falls in Ramanagaram district, squarely blamed the State government for the district losing out its green zone status.
The episode also meant that 62 police and prison officials have been designated as primary contacts and will have to be quarantined. All 30 officials at the Ramanagaram District Prison will be quarantined based on the advice of the District Health Officer (DHO), said Director General of Police, Prisons, Karnataka, Alok Mohan.
The family members of the prison staff told Mr. Kumaraswamy that, “The prison officials were not given any protective gear like PPE suits. They were only given masks and forced to interact with the inmates brought from a COVID-19 hit area in Bengaluru.”
Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar, in-charge of COVID-19 in the State, said the decision to lodge the accused from the affected areas in Bengaluru in a green zone could have been avoided.
Asked about the government's lapse in dealing with this case, Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar said that it was an administrative decision taken by the Prisons Department. The samples of all the undertrials are being taken for testing, he said.