The Karnataka government, though not overly worried about the mutant strain of coronavirus that has put many countries on alert, is not easing up social distancing restrictions, particularly with capital Bengaluru preparing for New Year celebrations. It may even go after those people who are reportedly untraceable since arriving in the state from the UK where the rapid-transmitting strain of the virus was first detected a few months ago.
"I request the UK returnees to cooperate with us as responsible citizens. You have to get tested. If you don't get tested and switch off your phone, then it's a crime in true sense," Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar told reporters here according to agencies.
When asked if the state would against them, he said, "I am compelled to say that I will discuss with the Home Minister and decide the future course of action." Mr Sudhakar also said that till Sunday evening, the state had received 26 COVID-10 positive cases from the UK. Authorities began tracking such arrivals around the second week of this month.
The government, on the other hand, is likely to remain cautious, especially with the New Year's Day around the corner. "To control this (Covid), New Year celebrations will have to be restricted...public celebrations should be avoided. Private is allowed. There will be movement and timing restrictions in some areas. Restaurants have been asked not to have music or parties. We will hold meetings and the norms will declared to the public as soon as possible," Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters today in Bengaluru.
Referring to those who may have gone under the radar after returning from the UK, he said, normally the disembarkation details carry address of the passengers. "We will take those reports and will try to trace them, whatever their numbers are," Mr Bommai said.
At the same time, state Deputy Chief Minister Dr Ashwath Narayan said that the schedule for the reopening of schools is unlikely to be affected by the emergence of the new virus strain since it does not have "as bad an impact" as thought earlier.
"The virulity (sic) has reduced, and not increased. There is talk that it is a super-spreader but the virulity (sic) has come down. There is no reason for us to panic...We can ensure reopening of classes without worrying," Mr Narayan said. The state had earlier scheduled the reopening of classes 10 and 12 from January 1, 2020. A decision on this will now be taken based on further discussions.