Experts warn against changing restrictions

The State govt. modified its orders on 50% seating capacity in cinemas and closure of gyms

The State government’s repeated rollback of restrictions has irked COVID-19 experts, who say the next four weeks are most critical in the entire period since the first COVID-19 case in the country. Whatever needs to be done has to be done now to cut the transmission cycle, they assert.

A day after it announced stringent measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19, the State government modified its order on 50% seating capacity in cinemas following pressure from the film industry. The restriction has been postponed till April 7. Similarly, the next day the restriction pertaining to closure of gyms was also rolled back and they have been allowed to remain open with the 50% occupancy.

Confusing signals

Experts, who say that such flip-flops by the government will only send out confusing signals and lead to laxity among people who are already not following COVID-19 norms, assert that the State will go the Maharashtra way in the next three weeks.

“Then it will become inevitable for the government to announce more drastic measures, which could have been avoided if the restrictions were in force at the right time. If schools had been closed earlier and cinemas were not allowed to open full capacity in February itself, the transmission cycle could have been cut. We do not know under what compulsion the government rolled back its restrictions,” said a senior expert.

“When the government decides to issue an Order, the Chief Minister and the State’s administrators need to discuss what will be the consequences of the Order and anticipated response from the stakeholders. The Technical Advisory Committee can only recommend but the enforcing authority is the government. We are helpless,” said the expert.

Stating that the government will be known as a ‘rollback government in the history of the pandemic in Karnataka, another senior member of the TAC said soon the State will be forced to impose a lockdown. “But by then many lives would have been lost and things would have gone out of control,” the member said.

Grim situation

V. Ravi, TAC member and nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-COV-2 in Karnataka, said the situation is very grim. “Unless the public cooperates, we will soon reach figures identical to Maharashtra and that can happen in the next three weeks. Preventing the spread is everybody’s responsibility,” he said.

Giridhar R. Babu, another TAC member, tweeted, “While the lockdown in 2020 was mostly avoidable, the one in 2021 is mostly preventable.” “At this rate Bengaluru will have 6,500 daily cases by April 20. Even if 10% of them require hospitalization, the health system will run out of capacity in a few days. We need action now, not tomorrow. Stay home people, wear masks if going out and get vaccinated when eligible,” he said in another tweet. “Most of the congregations are preventable. The situation is fast evolving. What could have been done locally, is fast evolving necessitating national-level mitigation measures,” he added in another tweet.

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