Expect restrictions till December: Experts
They are against allowing social, political and religious gatherings, public rallies, sit-ins/dharnas, fairs and festivals in 2021
Although the second wave of COVID-19 appears to be subsiding, it is going to be a long wait for return of the pre-lockdown days in Karnataka, say experts. They warn that people will have to learn to live with some restrictions in place even beyond December.
The State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), that has recommended staggered unlocking in its report submitted to the government, has made it clear that all social, political and religious gatherings, public rallies, sit-ins/dharnas, fairs and festivals should not be allowed in all of 2021. Besides, it has recommended that all elections that involve canvassing and rallies or any other super-spreading events should not be held in 2021.
“Activities and places having high risk, such as cinema halls, pubs and bars, should be the last to be opened up,” the report stated adding that district administrations should impose stricter restrictions as and when such a need arises.
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said while it is advisable to continue commercial activities after June, people should not become complacent.
“Going by our experience in the second wave and with the third wave expected in October-November, restrictions on super-spreading events should continue even beyond December. Whether the government eases such restrictions or not, people should continue follow ing precautions. Masks should become a part of our attire,” the doctor said.
TAC member Giridhar R. Babu, who heads Lifecourse Epidemiology at the Public Health Foundation of India in Bengaluru, said restrictions are essential if lives have to be saved. “This is how it has been the world over. Total lockdown has not been lifted in the U.K. even after the situation has eased. A combination of containment measures and restrictions are required whenever the cases are high and health systems are overwhelmed,” he said.
“After seeing the high number of deaths in the second wave, we, as a society, should be more responsible. Only way out is continuing aggressive testing and expanding vaccination coverage,” he added.
Live with curbs
V. Ravi, TAC member and nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka, said, “All COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and restrictions related to crowding have to be continued for the next one year, or until nearly 90% of the population is vaccinated.”
Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said the nature of the pandemic and the virus is such that none of us are safe until each one of us is safe.
“Now, we have set a target to vaccinate every adult by the end of this year. So, there is a need for all of us to learn to live with this virus and make necessary changes in our lifestyle. We cannot expect our lives to be completely back to pre-COVID-19 level normalcy at least in the near future,” he said. He said that government will take an appropriate call on imposing restrictions from time to time depending on the situation.