COVID-19: Karnataka govt announces aid as lockdown extends in 9 districts

From shutting the state borders, giving free ration and screening domestic travellers at the airport, the Chief Minister announced various key decisions

Workers sew masks in the wake of deadly coronavirus, at a manufacturing unit. Photo: PTI

Following a cabinet meeting, the Karnataka government on Sunday (March 22) announced a slew of measures to control the spread of coronavirus in the state.

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said nine districts, including Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Mangaluru, Mysuru, Kalaburgi, Dharwad, Kodagu, Chikkaballapura, and Belagavi, will remain under a lockdown until March 31.

To help the people at this critical juncture, the state government has taken key decisions starting from shutting the state borders, giving free ration to screening domestic travellers at the airport.

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Noting that the outbreak is more prevalent in the urban areas and he also requested people living in urban areas not to travel to rural areas, which have so far a very small number of COVID-19 cases.

In a bid to avoid gatherings and curb the chances of community transmission, section 144 has been imposed in the state from 9 PM to 12 AM on Sunday which comes on a day when the country witnessed ‘Janata curfew’ from 7 AM to 9 PM.

Also, joining the list of other states, Karnataka cancelled all public transport starting Monday (March 23) and announced all air-conditioned buses and inter-district transport to remain suspended until end of this month.

Among other preventive measures, all commercial activities except medical stores, grocery shops and agriculture services are suspended until March 31 in the nine districts.

The chief minister also instructed industrial establishments that employ large number of workers to deploy half the resource on alternative days.

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To provide better healthcare facilities to the coronavirus patients, 1700 bed Victoria Hospital in Bangalore has been dedicated to COVID-19 cases and steps are being taken to obtain permission to test in more government and private hospitals, in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology.

The state government also aims to increase the number of testing labs and has decided to open a 24/7 war room in a government guest house ‘Balabrooie’ in Bengaluru.

To determine the spread of coronavirus via community transmission, all domestic air passengers will also be screened at airports from now on.

Taking a viral-hit, the SSLC exams were postponed until further orders and similar was the fate of elections in the state.

The chief minister also urged people living in the cities not to visit villages and informed that ration (food and civil supplies) of the next two months will be provided in advance.

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