4 of 5 K'taka Ministers Who Came in Contact with Virus-hit Journalist Test Negative, In Home Quarantine

Four of the five Karnataka ministers, who reportedly came in contact with the COVID-19 positive video journalist of a Kannada news channel recently, on Wednesday said they have tested negative for the virus. All of them are under home quarantine.

Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwath Narayan, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Education Minister K Sudhakar and Kannada and Culture Minister CT Ravi wrote their test reports have come out negative.

According to the movement history of the 34-year-old journalist, who tested positive on April 24, had visited Chief Minister BS Yediyurapppa's official residence on April 21 and had videographed Narayan and Ravi and come in close contact with Bommai while taking a video byte.

A day later, he had come in close contact with Sudhakar while covering a food distribution programme by MLC Narayana Swami. On April 23, his throat swab was collected at CV Raman Nagar Hospital.

However, he did not come in contact with the CM despite visiting his office multiple times during this period, an official said.

"After being informed that I might have come in contact with a COVID-19 affected person, I have been in home quarantine. I have tested negative, but will continue to be vigilant and take all necessary precautions," Narayan said in a tweet. Bommai said, he has taken a swab test and it has come out negative.

Ravi said, "I am under self quarantine and I am healthy... Even though I had no close interaction with him (camera man) during my meetings, I got myself tested on 28th April. I am happy to share with You that I have tested negative for #CoronaVirus."

The education minister wrote that even after testing negative for the virus he has decided to be in home quarantine for the next seven days as abundant precaution.

Test results of the fifth minister's samples are yet to be known. Earlier in the day, Minister S Suresh Kumar, who is spokesperson for COVID-19 in Karnataka, told reporters that the five ministers are undergoing tests.

However, reports allege that the few of these ministers had flouted mandated quarantining and are going about with routine work.

The ministers will not attend a crucial meeting on Thursday at Vidhana Soudha where the state's lockdown exit policy is likely to be discussed, though they might take part via video conferencing.

At least 40 other contacts of the video journalist, including his family and journalists from various media outlets, have been quarantined, sources said.

The chief minister, however, is not in quarantine as he had not come in contact, his office said. "The VJ (video journalist) had not come inside the chief minister's home office. He had come outside but he recorded the interviews of DCM and minister CT Ravi outside. So there is no need for the CM to be home quarantined. Besides, entire cabinet had tested itself and all reports came negative," the CMO said.

As many as 1,169 other journalists in Bengaluru were also tested for the virus and all of their reports have come negative. The decision to test journalists was taken by the government after some of their colleagues in Mumbai and Chennai tested positive for the virus.

The CMO staff have also been tested, all the results are negative. In addition to police personnel in the frontline, all government employees in the frontline will also be tested, the government decided on Wednesday.

Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar has questioned the government about ministers reportedly in contact with the video journalist not being quarantined, and termed it as "protocol violation".

"A Kannada News channel's cameraman is COVID +ve.His primary contacts include CM, DCM & Ministers. Why aren't they in quarantine? Isn't it double standards by those who must set an example to citizens? This is a protocol violation. This Govt is not serious about fighting COVID," Shivakumar tweeted.

(With inputs from PTI)