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Coronavirus outbreak: Karnataka curbed public gatherings after experts cited Italy, Wuhan data

A total of six positive cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Karnataka — all had recently returned from abroad, including a 76-year-old man who died on March 10.

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru |
March 15, 2020 3:19:26 am
The experts had recommended that curbs be imposed on public gatherings and large social interactions for two weeks. (Express photo: Gajendra Yadav)

A team of health experts in Karnataka convinced the state government to issue orders to restrict all big gatherings in the state by citing details of the galloping coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) in Italy and Spain in recent weeks and in Wuhan earlier.

The state government Friday decided to impose curbs — including shutting down public spaces such as malls and theatres apart from cancelling public events — for a week and to review the situation subsequently. The experts had recommended that curbs be imposed on public gatherings and large social interactions for two weeks.

“What happened in Italy and Spain and the way the disease spread in these countries within a matter of weeks because control measures were not put in place was presented to the government to facilitate the decision to curb public gatherings,” said Dr R Ravindra, a member of the Indian Medical Association who was at the government meeting.

“The reason two weeks was considered was due to the 14-day incubation period for the virus,” the IMA member said. At the meeting on Friday attended by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, state government officials and health experts, it was suggested that as many as 1 lakh people may be infected in Karnataka if data of the spread of the virus in places such as Italy, Spain and Wuhan is considered, sources familiar with the meeting said.

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“There are a lot of projections being made on the rate of spread of infections but we relied on available data in the public domain and what we already know is needed to control the spread of the virus, which is restricting movement of people and social interactions. This is what we recommended,” said Dr Ravindra, president of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association in Karnataka.

A total of six positive cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Karnataka — all had recently returned from abroad, including a 76-year-old man who died on March 10.

Those who tested positive reportedly came in contact with as many as 4,000 people, as per Karnataka’s health department.

An engineer of Dell India who came back from a work visit to US is reported to have made 2,666 contacts during and after his return before he fell ill and tested positive for the virus. His wife and daughter later tested positive too.

“There is going to be transmission for another maybe three or four weeks. After that, epidemics start dying down. In China, it has started dying down because of control measures. We are also putting in control measures. The weak link is the contact tracing and if that is not good then there is going to be spread of disease,’’ said Professor V Ravi, head of the virology lab at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences.

According to the report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Covid-19, quarantine and social distancing measures were most effective in curbing the spread of the disease which was doubling in the initial phases in China.

“Much of the global community is not yet ready, in mindset and materially, to implement the measures that have been employed to contain Covid-19 in China. These are the only measures that are currently proven to interrupt or minimize transmission chains in humans. Fundamental to these measures is extremely proactive surveillance to immediately detect cases, very rapid diagnosis and immediate case isolation, rigorous tracking and quarantine of close contacts, and an exceptionally high degree of population understanding and acceptance of these measures,” states the WHO-China joint mission report.

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