Police patrol an area in the city on Thursday.
BENGALURU: The Karnataka government is reportedly considering extending the lockdown beyond May 24 as the Covid-19 positivity rate and deaths are still high in many districts. There are some signs that the second wave may ease by the first week of June, but experts have recommended a cautious approach to the government.
Recently, Dr Balram Bhargava, the director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said in an interview that restrictions should continue in places with a positivity rate of more than 10 per cent. Most Karnataka districts, except Chitradurga and Haveri, have a rate of over 10 per cent. Government officials said it was likely that the lockdown would be extended if the situation didn’t improve by May 20.
The state government imposed a two-week curfew on April 28. As the measure failed to bring down the number of coronavirus infections, it enforced a strict lockdown of the same duration on May 10. It is finalising the next strategy by studying experts’ inputs.
Multiple agencies, including the Lancet India Taskforce, have shared with the government strategies to contain the Covid-19 spread. A longer lockdown is among the recommendations. “The lockdown should be extended by at least a week in Karnataka after May 24, while stricter curbs for two weeks will be ideal. Considering various factors, including rising positivity and fatalities, the extension is necessary,” said epidemiologist Dr Giridhar R Babu, a member of the Lancet task force.
The positivity rate is more than 30 per cent in eight districts, with Mysuru (38.1 per cent) topping the list. It is more than 20 per cent in 17 districts and over 10 per cent in four. Experts have cited multiple possible reasons for the higher levels of infectivity. Mutation of the virus is seen as the main one. Reverse migration because of the lockdown, mostly from Bengaluru to rural parts, is another major factor.
“We must consider factors such as decreased number of tests and limiting of testing to symptomatic patients and their primary contacts at government labs. We had anticipated the present scenario as the reduced number of tests would naturally result in higher positivity rates,” said Dr MK Sudarshan, the chairman of the state technical advisory committee on Covid-19.
He has found the current lockdown to be more effective than the partial one. The overall Covid situation may get better by May-end or the first week of June, according to three mathematical models that the committee has received from different agencies. “We have been giving reports and inputs regularly to the government and the subject of lockdown extension is under discussion. We will review the situation by May 20 and give our inputs to the government,” Dr Sudarshan added.
Deputy chief minister CN Ashwath Narayan said the government was studying all aspects. “A decision on the lockdown issue will be taken at an appropriate time,” he said.