Unrestricted movement of people is risky: Experts
Although Karnataka is witnessing a decline in active cases and daily new cases of COVID-19, it is not yet time to celebrate. The influx of people into Bengaluru and crowding, with no system in place for checking those who are entering the city, is risky with the fear of a third wave still looming large, said experts.
Karnataka has been maintaining an average test positivity rate (TPR) of around 7% for the past one week. From 9.23% last week, the State’s average (TPR) reduced to 6.68% in the last seven days prior to June 13.
Returning in droves
Last week, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa announced a gradual unlock process in 19 districts starting Monday. People, who had left Bengaluru soon after the lockdown was announced, are now returning in huge numbers. Experts said this is a matter of concern as the plummeting TPR is not yet an indication of tiding over the crisis.
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said it is advisable to impose Section 144 in the city all through the day for another three months to prohibit people from moving around in groups.
“Going by the unrestricted movement of people on the first day of unlocking, it will not be a surprise if the number of cases goes up again. If we do not follow precautions now, we will be inviting the third wave much earlier than expected,” he said.
Suggesting random checks at all entry points and toll gates, Dr. Manjunath said, “People should carry negative RTPCR/RAT reports or vaccination reports.”
V. Ravi, member of the State’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), said the onus is now on people to prevent an aggressive third wave. “We have been repeatedly warning against crowding but people, on the first day of unlocking, have forgotten that the virus is still lurking around. If this continues, the imminent third wave will arrive much earlier,” he said. “Why cannot people behave more responsibly until everyone is vaccinated? I can understand they have been locked up for nearly two months but complacency at this point of time is risky and dangerous.”
Dr. Ravi, who is also the nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka, said there should be no change in the testing strategy at least till December. “We should continue testing a minimum of 1.30 lakh samples (70% RT-PCR) till December,” he added.
Prohibitory order extended
With the Karnataka government easing lockdown restrictions from Monday, Police Commissioner Kamal Pant imposed prohibitory orders till June 21 midnight .
The order issued by Mr. Pant prohibits assembly of four or more persons in public places. However, exemptions have been given for the purpose specified in the government order.
Bus stands, railway stations and airports are exempted from this order, Mr. Pant said .
Though the number of COVID-19 cases in Bengaluru is declining, there is a need to be very alert and follow all precautions, so that the pandemic does not spread again, the order stated.