A lockdown is not the solution to contain the coronavirus, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said today, as he dismissed requests by the Bengaluru municipal corporation to extend the city-specific restrictions that end next week. He announced a slew of orders to track, test and treat COVID-19 patients, especially those above 65 years of age.
"Experts have said one week is enough. There will be no further extension of the lockdown," Revenue Minister R Ashok said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Tejasvi Surya, parliamentarian from Bengaluru South, which has the highest number of Covid cases in the state capital which accounts for about 50 per cent of all cases in Karnataka.
"The chief minister made it clear that the lockdown would not be extended at any cost. The limited lockdown was to catch up with backlog of cases, trace primary contacts and create medical infrastructure," he said.
Steps to make efficient use of hospital beds were among the directives the Chief Minister gave to ministers and officials in charge of the Bengaluru municipal corporation's eight zones at a meeting today.
"We spoke about increasing the number of ICU and oxygen beds. We will also be talking to all medical colleges for creating Covid wards; private hospitals had promised 5,000 beds but haven't given any yet," Mr Ashok said.
The chief minister ordered "strict action" against private hospitals that refuse admission to patients. The directive comes amid increase in coronavirus infection among frontline healthcare workers, and no state support for their treatment.
Stating that Karnataka was conducting more tests than recommended by the WHO, Medical Education Minister Dr Sudhakar said, "We conducted 23,451 tests in a single day today and 9,25,477 tests in the state so far...Within next 7-10 days testing capacity will be enhanced to conduct 40,000 to 50,000 tests per day."
The Chief Minister also ordered increased police deployment to check crowding.