Connect with us


Karnataka govt panel says no medical reason to continue lockdown, seeks phased withdrawal




A bust of the late Kannada actor Dr Vishnuvardhan seen with a mask during the Covid-19 lockdown, in Bengaluru Wednesday
A bust of the late Kannada actor Dr Vishnuvardhan seen with a mask during the Covid-19 lockdown, in Bengaluru Wednesday | PTI

Text Size:

Bengaluru: A high-powered expert committee appointed by the Karnataka government to chalk out an exit plan for the 21-day lockdown has said there is “no medical reason” to continue it beyond 14 April, when it’s scheduled to end. 

Headed by Dr Devi Shetty, the founder of Bengaluru-based Narayana Hrudayalaya, a chain of hospitals, the panel has recommended lifting the lockdown in phases while continuing prohibitory orders in “hotspots” (areas with multiple cases) with strict policing.

“The government should plan a phased exit at 2-weekly intervals. Covid-19 is a three-month-old disease and there is no precedence (sic) of standards to follow,” the report, accessed by ThePrint, states.

“No one can predict the ground realities at the end of two weeks, so let’s design the action plan for 2 weeks from 15 April to 30 April, 2020,” it adds. 

The five-member panel submitted its report to the Karnataka government Wednesday evening. An official in the Karnataka Chief Minister’s Office said the panel’s suggestions were being taken into consideration by the B.S. Yediyurappa cabinet and a decision will be arrived at by Thursday. 

However, state Health Minister B. Sriramulu has thrown his weight behind the idea of an extended lockdown, telling ThePrint that the Covid-19 situation in the state is still not under control. 

Also Read: Modi must not extend lockdown. Economy won’t survive on ventilator for long

What the panel has recommended

According to the panel, lifting the lockdown in a phase-wise manner will instil confidence among people, prevent public frustration and secure livelihoods.

It has asked information technology and business technology firms and other commercial establishments to encourage work from home, while allowing 50 per cent of the workforce to return to offices. 

“Encourage industries in the organised sector to reopen and function at 50 per cent while every employee gets paid fully. Construction industry should also be encouraged to resume…” the report states. 

The panel has noted how the lockdown left thousands of migrant workers stranded in the state with no income or food, adding, “Declaring lockdown of a specific industry for a long period of time will result in layoffs compounding the economic problems.” 

Other recommendations include: 

  1. Curbs on unnecessary movement should continue until 30 April, as should the bar on transport by air, railways, and air-conditioned buses, as well as metro services. 
  2. Strict social distancing must be enforced until 31 May, while Section 144 should continue in certain areas under police vigil.
  3. Gyms, bars, hotels, shopping malls, movie theatres, etc should remain closed until April-end. 
  4. Chewing gum should be banned and the spitting of pan in public places curbed.
  5. Shops and other establishments should operate without air-conditioning until further notice. 
  6. Educational institutions should continue tutorials until 31 May. The panel states students should be encouraged to take online classes as it will lay the foundation for educational reforms. 
  7. The state should procure more testing kits, the panel states. It, however, discourages “indiscriminate use of antibody rapid testing”, the cheap, quick tests for Covid-19 diagnosis.
  8. Online training for the use of rapid antibody testing should be held through existing platforms.  

While a decision on the panel report is yet awaited, Sriramulu has said the lockdown must be extended. 

“Coronavirus is not under control yet. The number of cases and those infected has been increasing day by day,” he added. “We should take a cue from Punjab, which has recommended an extended lockdown. It will help in the long run to control the situation.”

By Thursday, Karnataka had registered 181 cases of Covid-19, of which five have died.   

Also Read: Modi tells MPs lockdown only way to curb Covid-19 spread, hints at extension beyond 14 April


ThePrint is now on Telegram. For the best reports & opinion on politics, governance and more, subscribe to ThePrint on Telegram.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.


Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

Text Size:

Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


ThePrint is now on Telegram. For the best reports & opinion on politics, governance and more, subscribe to ThePrint on Telegram.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Continue Reading