Discussions on regarding extending lockdown, no decision yet: Karnataka CM

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(Updating with details of CM's meeting with District officials and Ministers) Bengaluru, May 17 (PTI): Discussions are on regarding extending the lockdown in Karnataka, but no decision has been taken yet on the matter, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said on Monday, as the state battles the second wave of COVID-19.

'I'm discussing it, will let you know. No decision has been taken yet,' Yediyurappa told reporters in response to a question on extending the lockdown and announcing a package.

Later in the evening after meeting with senior Ministers, Deputy Commissioners, zilla panchayat CEOs, police superintendents, health officers and surgeons of all districts, he said till May 24 there is already a lockdown, and after couple of days 'we will discuss and decide on, how long to extend it.' Asked about a special financial package as relief for the needy whose life has been affected by the COVID-induced lockdown, he said, 'It is being discussed and no decision has been taken yet.' Though the State is currently under complete lockdown till May 24, several leaders, including Ministers, have expressed themselves in favour of extending it.

The Karnataka government had initially announced 14 days 'close down' from April 27, but subsequently imposed a complete lockdown from May 10 to May 24, as the cases continued to spike.

Revenue Minister R Ashoka, also vice-chairman of Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority, who has been batting for the extension of curbs, today said lockdown has been useful as daily fresh cases in Bengaluru have come down and it would be good to extend the shutdown.

Noting that because of lockdown, the number of daily cases has come down in Maharashtra and Delhi too, he said three days before the current shutdown ends, senior Ministers would meet under the leadership of the Chief Minister and take a decision.

Mines and Geology Minister Murugesh Nirani too said it would be good if lockdown is extended for some more days.

Health Minister K Sudhakar, in response to a question about extending the restrictions, said it would be discussed at the meeting chaired by the Chief Minister.

Union Minister Sadananda Gowda too had said recently that the lockdown has to be extended if need be, as it has been yielding results, with major cities including Bengaluru, witnessing decline in daily COVID positive cases.

Meanwhile, the Congress and JD(S) have urged the state government to provide relief, including financial and food, and come to the rescue of those whose livelihood has been affected by the shutdown.

JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy urged the government that the lockdown, if extended, should be 'pro bono', where economic and food relief to the needy is taken care of.

The Chief Minister's meeting with DCs, zilla panchayat CEOs, police superintendents, health officers and surgeons of all districts, comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's video conference with deputy commissioners of 17 districts of the state on May 18 to take stock of the Covid-19 situation.

The DCs of Uttara Kannada, Hassan, Ballari, Mysuru, Tumakuru, Kolar, Kodagu, Bengaluru Urban, Udupi, Bengaluru Rural, Shivamogga, Dharwad, Dakshina Kannada, Raichur, Kalaburagi, Mandya and Chikballapur districts would be part of PM's video conferencing.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Yediyurappa said as there is a surge of cases in the villages, instructions was given to the DCs to give priority to contain pandemic in villages.

They have been asked to take action to provide test reports within 24 hours, instructed to conduct house-to-house survey and segregating patients through phone triaging on priority, and told to to purchase medicines locally for distribution, if there is shortage of medicines to provide medical kits, he said.

It was directed to strictly follow the guidelines issued by the Central government to contain the pandemic in rural and semi urban areas, he said adding direction was given to utilise the resources through treating the increasing numbers of infected persons based on the seriousness of their illness, and to ensure timely treatment to those who are in need of emergency treatment.

The Chief Minister said officers have been told to set up Covid care centres at PHC levels as village households rarely have facilities for home isolation.

Oxygen concentrators are being provided to all districts based on the need by the Health Department, he said oxygen supply should be assessed in advance to ensure timely supply, and in case of emergencies, it was instructed to coordinate with neighbouring districts.

The Central and State governments are giving oxygen plants and generators as per the requirement, he said, adding that medicines are being purchased for three months, hence there would be no shortage of medicines for medical kits.

The Deputy Commissioners were directed to take appropriate action regarding imposing strict restriction depending on the seriousness of the situation in consultation with the district in-charge ministers, Yediyurappa said.

Taking note of black fungus cases in different districts, he said that presently, treatment for this is provided in Bowring Hospital, and this facility would be extended to all zonal levels in coming days.

Black fungus is not a new disease, it is increasing due to usage of ICU, ventilators, he said adding treatment facility would be introduced in five zonal medical colleges of Shivamogga, Kalaburagi, Mysuru, Hubballi and Mangaluru.

The Chief Minister also said all district in-charge secretaries should discuss twice a week with DCs concerned about solving issues in Covid management.

During discussion about vaccination, instruction was given to administer second dose to 45+ age group on priority and, later on to the first dose to 45+, he added.

Karnataka today reported 38,603 new cases of COVID-19, and 476 fatalities, taking the total number of infections to 22,42,065 and the death toll to 22,313.


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