Karnataka to unlock in a staggered manner, say Ministers (Lead)

Bengaluru, June 9 (IANS) With the pandemic’s second wave waning, Karnataka is likely to unlock from June 14 in a staggered manner to prevent any further surge in Covid cases, state Health Minister K. Sudhakar on Wednesday.

“As lifting the extended lockdown in one go will result in Covid cases surging, unlocking will be done in a staggered manner from June 14,” Sudhakar told reporters after a review meeting here.

The state has been under extended lockdown since April 27 to contain the virus spread.

“Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa will decide on modalities of unlocking, which will be based on the advice of the state technical advisory committee, comprising health experts,” Sudhakar said.

The prolonged lockdown, which was extended thrice over the month, however, allowed people to buy essential needs, including vegetables, fruits, milk and groceries from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily. Medical shops were exempted from the lockdown.

Though travel by air and trains was allowed, public and private vehicles were not permitted to operate after 10 a.m.

In its report to the state government, the experts committee said lockdown could be lifted in a calibrated manner if the positivity rate declined below 5 per cent and the caseload less than 5,000 across the state.

According to the state health bulletin, positive cases, however, declined below 11,000 and deaths below 200 on Tuesday.

“Compared to other states, the second wave subdued earlier in Karnataka. States like Maharashtra opened up in a staggered way only after cases reduced substantially,” Sudhakar said.

State Revenue Minister R. Ashoka also said unlocking would be in 4-5 phases with dos and don’ts to ensure the virus remains contained.

“Lockdown will not be relaxed at one go. It will be eased in 4-5 phases, keeping in view the number of new cases and deaths,” Ashoka told reporters on the margins of an event here.

In the first phase, the 4-hour relaxation for shops selling essential goods will be extended so that people can buy their daily needs at ease.

“People will also be allowed to go for walks in parks and public grounds in residential areas, wearing mask and maintaining physical distance,” said Ashoka.

The state government is hoping daily cases in Bengaluru, which has been the epicentre of the pandemic in the state, to decline below 500 soon from about 2,000 on Tuesday to facilitate phased unlocking.

“The Chief Minister is likely to call a meeting of ministers, experts and officials in a day or two to review the Covid situation across the state and decide from when and how to unlock in a phased manner,” added Ashoka, who is also the Vice Chairman of the state Disaster Management Authority.

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