Mandatory Tests at Borders, Vaccines to More People: Karnataka CM Asks People to 'Prevent Lockdown'

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Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday said RT-PCR tests are now mandatory at Maharashtra and Kerala borders, while reiterating the need to follow Covid-19 norms strictly to curb a recent hike in cases

“The trend has been so that Covid-19 has increased over the last fortnight,” he said, adding that vaccination across would be increased and sped-up. Testing and contract-testing will also be paid attention to, the Chief Minister said.

“We are making RT-PCR Covid-19 tests compulsory at the Maharashtra and Kerala borders,” Yediyurappa said, and asked people to wear marks, and maintain distancing to “balance economic activity and avoid a lockdown”.

“The Prime Minister is a meeting us a day after, we will take suggestions in that meeting and then take a decision,” he said, adding that as of yet, there was no decision of a night curfew.

At the state’s Covid-19 response meeting on Monday, the task force made some recommendations to prevent the rise in cases. These included restricting physical school classes for 6th to 9th standard; stricter covid protocol; action against violators; and reducing the age limit of those who can get vaccinated.

A high-level meeting of all CMs and health officials with PM Modi is set to take place on March 17.

“I request people to comply and wear masks. Right now, the fine is Rs 250 but if people do not comply, we will see…,” he said.

Karnataka is among the five states that continue to report a surge in daily coronavirus daily cases, accounting for 78.41 percent of the new infections, the Union Health Ministry said on Monday. A total of 26,291 new cases were registered in a day. “A rising trajectory of daily new cases is visible in eight states. These are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka and Haryana,” the ministry said.

Karnataka’s increasing trend continued as the state reported 934 infections on Sunday, taking the tally to 9.60 lakh while three related deaths pushed the fatality tally to 12,390.

Yediyurappa had on Sunday said the pandemic seemed to be going out of control in the state and asked people to cooperate by adhering to the preventive measures if they don’t want another lockdown. “I appeal to the people with folded hands for cooperation…. if people cooperate I’m confident that without lockdown we can control,” he said.

His appeal comes in the backdrop of lockdown being clamped in parts of neighbouring Maharashtra recently in view of sharp rise in fresh cases there. Earlier, the nation-wide lockdown imposed in March last year was relaxed in phases under Unlock guidelines and the Karnataka has allowed almost all activities.

For the first time since January 22, the daily COVID-19 cases in Karnataka crossed the 900 mark on Saturday. It reported 921 cases with 630 of them from Bengaluru Urban district alone. Since Monday last, over 4,300 new cases have been detected in the state, whose cumulative COVID-19 tally stood at 9,59,338 including 12,387 deaths and 9,38,890 discharges.

The active cases, which hovered around 4,000-5,000 last month, touched 8,042 active cases, reflecting the rise. “Since last one month COVID seems to be going out of control, day-by-day the number of cases are increasing. So I have called a meeting of experts tomorrow,” Yediyurappa told reporters here.

He also said the government has fixed a limit on the number of people allowed to attend gatherings like marriages, and action will be taken in accordance with law in case of any violation. “My appeal to people is that if you don’t want lockdown and want all activities to continue as it is going on now, people have to cooperate by wearing masks and maintaining distance,” the Chief Minister said.

Noting that cases were increasing day-by-day in Maharashtra, he said, all efforts were being made to control the spread from travellers coming to the state from there. Responding to a question whether the government is thinking about measures like lockdown or night curfew, Yediyurappa said, “as of now there are no such plans, if people cooperate and things come under control, we don’t want to impose lockdown, as it will hamper day-to-day activities.

“We have suffered in the past (due to lockdown). I will not allow it, but people will have to cooperate.” The Chief Minister’s office said he has called a meeting of officials and health experts at 5 pm on Monday at Vidhana Soudha, the seat of state legislature and secretariat.

In the wake of a spike in cases in the state, the government on Friday had put a cap on the number of people who can gather at events and celebrations like marriages. Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Jawaid Akhtar in a circular has said the measure has been taken amid the emergence of new clusters and fear of a second wave of the pandemic.

As per new rules, 500 people will be allowed at marriages if it is an open space, and only 200 if it is a hall or a closed space. Similarly for birthday celebrations, the limit would be 100 and 50 respectively for functions in open and closed spaces.

A similar cap has been specified for funerals. However, at cremations and burials, only 50 are allowed. A maximum of 500 people will be allowed for religious and political gatherings in open spaces.