Karnataka govt announces extension of lockdown by two weeks

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(EDS: Adding details) Bengaluru, May 21 (PTI): The Karnataka government on Friday announced extension of lockdown for two weeks from May 24 to June 7 to contain the spread of coronavirus in the State.

The stringent restrictions are already in force from May 10 and was slated to end on May 24.

The Chief Minister announced the decision after a meeting with senior Ministers, Chief Secretary and other officials.

'Heeding to the suggestions of experts, we have decided to extend the stringent restriction from May 24 to June 7,' he told reporters here.

Stating that the lockdown has been extended in view of the public health concerns and the suggestions of the experts, Yediyurappa said he expected cooperation from people.

'I appeal to the people to abide by the COVID-appropriate behaviour of wearing facemasks in public places, maintaining hygiene and social distancing in public places,' the Chief Minister said.

He said the current lockdown guidelines would continue and there would not be any change in them.

However, in Bengaluru and surrounding villages the restrictions would be stringent as a section of people has been seen roaming around even after 10 AM.

He warned of strict action against them.

'People are allowed to make purchases (of essentials) between 6 AM to 10 AM but they should be home by 9.45 AM,' Yediyurappa said.

To a question, he said the government has not taken any decision regarding pay cut in the salary of government servants.

Speaking about black fungus, the Chief Minister said the State government has decided to give treatment to the infected persons free of cost in government district hospitals.

'Since a large number of poor people cannot bear the expenses, we have decided to treat black fungus infections in government hospitals free of cost,' Yediyurappa said.

The government had imposed strict restrictions from May 10 when the COVID cases and fatalities did not abate.

State Ministers, especially Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar, have been advocating the extension of the lockdown for the past few days due to rising COVID cases.

The State today reported 32,218 fresh infections and 353 fatalities, taking the total infections and deaths due to COVID to 23,67,742 and 24,207 respectively. There were 5,14,238 active cases.

The cases have subsided from over 50,000 cases a day last month to 32,218 today but the Health Department officials still perceive that very high.

A matter of serious concern for the government, according to them, is that the cases are fast increasing in other districts, though Bengaluru, which was an epicentre of COVID, showed decline in the number of fresh infections.

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