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Was COVID-19 lockdown effective in Karnataka? Experts not on the same page

Some say four phases of lockdown helped stop spread of virus and keep mortality rate low; Others say curbs not used properly, public not educated, economy hit

Published: 09th June 2020 06:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th June 2020 02:09 PM   |  A+A-

A health worker collecting swab sample at JC road in Bengaluru on Monday. (Photo | Shriram BN/EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: A look at the data on how corona cases have progressed in Karnataka, shows an increase despite the four phases of lockdown. Since Lockdown 1.0 announced on March 24, and subsequently, Lockdown 2.0 (April 14), Lockdown 3.0 (May 3), Lockdown 4.0 (May 17), and Unlock 1.0 on June 1, cases have continued to rise.

A massive jump can be seen between Lockdown 3.0 and 4.0 — from 1,146 to 3,221 cases — as well as Lockdown 4.0 and Unlock 1.0, when numbers spiked from 3,221 to 5,452, as on June 7. Experts are divided on the effectiveness of the lockdown in the state.

Dr MK Sudarshan, public health expert and chairman of Karnataka Covid-19 technical advisory committee, said, “The lockdown was effective and essential. Cases saw a spurt only when inter-state borders opened up, with an influx of people from Mumbai, Pune and other parts of Maharashtra. Aggressive testing was taken up by deputy commissioners, so we are seeing more positive cases. The rate of increase can be attributed to Maharashtra returnees, of whom 80%-90% are already home. In a week or so, we won’t see much rise in cases.”

Dr John Jacob, virologist at Christian Medical College, Vellore, however said that if case numbers are increasing, it means the lockdown was incomplete and unnecessary.

“In the west, the lockdown was not complete as in India, with essential services still open. There was no need for hoarding there. The lockdown in India acted against national interest and was the result of a lack of imagination and consulting. It was lockdown overkill and achieved hardly one-fifth or one-tenth of its benefit. Rich people took the lockdown seriously but the poor couldn’t, resulting in transmission.”

He said: “If your water is contaminated, do you discontinue water supply, or make it safe? Stopping social contact is the worst thing we can do. Instead, we should have made it safe for preventing spread of droplet infection. The government missed a great opportunity to educate people to wear masks all the time, even inside the house, protect the elderly who have other chronic ailments, maintain hand hygiene, so the virus doesn’t spread within the family. Even when eating with the family, people should have been taught to maintain 8 feet distance,” Dr Jacob said.

“Education would have saved the economy, helped the poor and slowed down coronavirus spread.”

Pankaj Kumar Pandey, Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare said, “There have been studies by prestigious institutes which state that if there was no lockdown, there would have been many more cases, and Karnataka, which has a good mortality rate, would see many mortalities. Lockdown also provided us time to prepare. Now with Unlock 1.0, many people can take precautions.” 

More from Karnataka.

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