Coronavirus: Karnataka announces lockdown from March 24 till 31; seven new COVID-19 cases reported

The government earlier announced stricter measures in nine districts, including Bengaluru, where lockdown was declared on Sunday till March 31 to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Karnataka government on Monday night announced a lockdown from March 24 till month end in the entire state as seven new COVID-19 cases were reported, taking the tally in the state to 33.

The government earlier announced stricter measures in nine districts, including Bengaluru, where lockdown was declared on Sunday till March 31 to contain the spread of the virus.

In a late-night tweet, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said, "After assessing the situation of COVID-19, we have decided to lockdown, not just nine districts, but the whole state of Karnataka starting tomorrow till March 31. I request all citizens to co-operate and please stay indoors."

He also appealed to the people not to resort to bulk buying or hoarding.

"Please note that there is no need for bulk buying, hoarding, or any sort of panic. Food supply and grocery shops will be open for all as usual. Your co-operation is extremely important here and we can fight this," he said.

In another tweet in Kannada, he said, the total lockdown was extended to the entire state "to control COVID-19 infection which is spreading at a dangerous level."

The government on Sunday announced the shutdown of all commercial activities, barring essential services in Bengaluru city, Bengaluru Rural, Mangaluru, Mysuru, Kalaburagi, Dharwad, Chikkaballapura, Kodagu, and Belagavi till month end, while closing state borders and postponing board exams.

Orders were issued on Monday prohibiting gathering of more than five people in public places in these districts, stopping public and private transport services, and closing of government offices there.

"All gatherings of more than five persons shall be prohibited in public places except for purposes of containment of COVID-19 and statutory and regulatory functions," the state government said in an order signed by Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar.

It said all shops, commercial establishments, offices, workshops, and godowns dealing shall close their operations subject to exceptions, while all industries and factories except those dealing with essential goods and services, food, medical equipment, drugs, fuel, agricultural inputs, etc., shall remain closed.

"They (industries) are advised not to remove any worker on this account and advised to sanction paid leave on these days (till March 31) to the remaining workers," it added.

The government said all foreign returnees shall remain in strict home quarantine, and violation of home quarantine will entail penal action and shift to a government quarantine.

The ongoing budget session of the Karnataka legislative assembly will be cut short, as Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri announced that it will be adjourned sine die on Tuesday, amid growing demand for it to be curtailed in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.

"To date, 33 COVID-19 positive cases have been confirmed in the state which includes one death," the state health department said in a bulletin.

It said 31 positive patients are in isolation at designated hospitals and are stable.

The seven new positive cases confirmed on Monday include two from neighbouring Kerala and five from Bengaluru.

The government, in its order, has said all passenger transport services including inter-state, inter-district and within the district operations of Road Transport Corporations, and private operations shall be stopped in the nine districts.

"Plying of private vehicles shall be permitted only for procuring essential commodities and exceptions permitted," it said, adding that all Ola, Uber, taxis, autorickshaws, and other hired services shall not be permitted for passenger transport except for procuring essential commodities and medical emergencies.

All government offices dealing with non-essential services as notified by government shall remain closed, the order said, as it also called for stopping of all prayer and festival gatherings in the nine districts.

Warning against violating the regulations, the order said, those in violation will have to face the law under Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, sections of IPC, among others.

The Health Department said a mammoth exercise of identifying overseas passenger who had landed in Kempegowda International Airport at Bengaluru before March 17, was taken by city civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and have applied home quarantine stamps on 5,000 people on Sunday.

Following the shutdown, the government said food will be provided free-of-cost through state-run 'Indira Canteen' for the poor who depend on their daily wages for livelihood.

(Edited by Suman Singh)