Positives detected in the last few days indicate home-grown infections are speeding up
Bengaluru: With the numbers of COVID-19 positive cases rising at an alarming rate in Karnataka, the state is on the verge of entering stage three of the coronavirus epidemic. This means that the virus is spreading to people who have no travel history to Covid-19 affected countries or contact with a COVID-19 positive person with such a history.
Consequently, authorities in Karnataka are expecting a surge in positive cases in the coming days. This surge is likely to come from pockets across the state that have a large number of coronavirus suspects, mainly people who have returned from Covid-19 affected countries.
In the parlance of the corona epidemic fighters, these pockets are called clusters. Bengaluru is one big cluster with many suspects, many of whom are IT professionals who recently returned from Europe, USA and Australia, etc. The coastal belt is another cluster, with suspects who have recently travelled to Middle East. There are other clusters in Karnataka, where suspects are those who returned after a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Medical education minister K Sudhakar admitted that the rate of increase of COVID-19 positives in Karnataka is alarming. For over a month, the state had limited the number of positive cases to single digits. However, in the last four days, the number has gone up sixfold and Karnataka now has 55 cases, the third largest number of COVID-19 positive cases in the country.
Dr Sudhakar said the government was converting every government hospital into a quarantine centre to accommodate any number of positive cases.
“Our aim is not to get into a situation like Italy, where the government has been reduced to expressing helplessness. In next 20 days, we have to avoid getting into such a situation. I visited Chinnaswamy and Kanteerava stadiums and we are working out if the stadiums can be converted into quarantine centres, if warranted,'' Dr Sudhakar said.
The state police are struggling to enforce the lockdown due to non-cooperation from some people. They plan to rope in celebrities to send across the message on social distancing.
While some with home-quarantine seals are found roaming in the streets, some still think the lockdown is a holiday.
“We are roping in movie stars as well as sports personalities to give out a serious message on COVID-19. If the message goes home, it may help us control people to a large extent,'' he added.