BENGALURU: While the State Government has imposed weekend curfew in border districts and additional curbs across Karnataka to contain the spread of Covid-19, Health and Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar ruled out imposition of a statewide lockdown.
“As of now, there is no question of imposing a lockdown across the state. We don’t have such a situation here,” Sudhakar, who retained the Health and Medical Education portfolios in Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s cabinet, told The New Sunday Express.
Excerpts from an interview:
What is the situation in the state right now?
There is a slight uptick in the number of cases in Mangaluru, Udupi, Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur districts.
There are 162 active micro-containment zones in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Mahadevapura, East and Bommanahalli zones together have more than 65 per cent of the micro-containment zones in Bengaluru.
We are closely monitoring the situation.
When the cases in many border districts are increasing, will it help if we place restrictions only in those districts?
Considering the present situation, we have decided to impose restrictions only in the districts bordering Kerala and Maharashtra.
We will take an appropriate decision in the coming days and weeks based on the suggestions of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
Will the government consider lockdown across the state if cases in other districts too increase?
As of now, there is no question of imposing lockdown across the state.
We are not in such a situation. We have already imposed night curfew across the state and the restrictions like the curbs on large gatherings and other potential risks are already in place.
We will monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis and take appropriate decisions based on the opinions of experts and recommendations of the TAC.
The TAC has suggested to the government to conduct a third serosurvey, which should also include children, to mitigate the third wave. When will it be done?
It will be conducted in all the districts soon. Necessary instructions regarding this have already been issued.
What is the status of oxygen supply? Many hospitals still depend on the government for oxygen supply, despite being asked to augment oxygen supply. What is being done on that front?
We have decided to boost oxygen capacity by 1,123 kilolitres in the state.
We are setting up new oxygen generation plants and procuring oxygen cylinders and concentrators to avoid shortages and to ensure adequate availability of oxygen across the state.
We have also taken steps to add additional 3,249 ICU beds and 8,315 oxygenated beds in district and taluk hospitals.
What steps are being taken to ensure that we get 1,200 MT oxygen allocated to Karnataka?
The supply of medical oxygen to hospitals is determined by contractual arrangements between the hospital concerned and the medical oxygen supplier.
We will take steps to manage the logistics in advance and activate nodal officers and teams to ensure adequate and timely supply of oxygen to hospitals based on demand.
On one hand, we are imposing additional restrictions, on the other, we are reopening schools from August 23. Isn’t it contradictory?
The decision to reopen schools has been taken after wide consultations with experts and all stakeholders. However, the government will take appropriate decisions based on the prevailing situation in each district.
The safety of children is of utmost priority for our government. Rest assured, whatever decision the government takes will be in the interest of the safety and future of our children.
The report submitted by the Dr Devi Shetty-led committee has provided detailed suggestions in this regard. The government is adhering to all those guidelines and SOPs suggested by experts.
What is the status of establishing genome sequencing labs in districts? When will it be done?
Six genomic labs have been approved and the tender process is under way.
As of now, we are following the Government of India guidelines of testing 5 per cent of total positives for new variants at the National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) genomic laboratories.
Vaccine shortage is a major concern. What is the government’s strategy to overcome this?
There is no shortage of vaccines. Yesterday, we crossed the milestone of administering 50 crore doses across India.
In Karnataka, we have administered more than 3.23 crore doses. We have received 12.24 lakh doses of vaccine so far in August.
Today Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has got emergency use approval which has expanded our basket.
So, there is no shortage of vaccines and, as I said earlier, we are confident of fully vaccinating the entire adult population in the state by the year-end.