Last month, B S Yediyurappa, 77, Chief Minister of Karnataka, tested positive for Covid-19 as the state’s caseload witnessed a steep surge. Later, Yediyurappa’s daughter and the Karnataka health minister were also diagnosed with Covid-19. Now, back at work, the chief minister is tackling the rising coronavirus death rate as cases near the five lakh mark in the state. He says he has been focusing on his diet and exercise, and drinking herbal Kashaya to boost his immunity.
What precautions do you take to stay Covid-free?
I wear a mask when I meet my Cabinet colleagues, staff and the public. All meetings are held with minimum people and social distancing norms are followed.
You have tested positive for Covid-19. What was your routine like in self-isolation?
I tested positive for Covid-19 but I was asymptomatic. I was in hospital for about 10 days as my doctor advised me the same. I did all my work from the hospital. There were heavy rains in many parts of the state and I managed to monitor the situation closely. I was in constant touch with the chief secretary and the district administration through phone and video conferences.
What kind of gloves and mask do you use?
I prefer handwoven cotton masks which are comfortable and reusable. However, during meetings and while travelling, I wear the N95 mask. I have not used gloves so far. I wash my hands frequently with soap and use sanitiser.
While interacting with people at work, what precautions do you take?
I prefer virtual meetings. When a physical meeting is absolutely unavoidable, I ensure only a small number of people attend it. Apart from that, I take a number of measures to stay healthy and fit. Since the coronavirus outbreak, I have been consuming the herbal Kashaya drink to boost my immunity. My diet includes millets and vegetables. I am also fortunate enough to get fresh organic milk from cows that I have at my official residence Cauvery. I walk for about an hour every morning and evening without fail. I have doing it for decades now.
How long have you gone without seeing your family?
I love spending time with my grandchildren… But I have not lived with my family for nearly 10-12 years now.
Do you take any specific precautions while you travel?
I used to travel a lot before the pandemic. Now, I travel only when absolutely necessary. As a rule, I always wear a mask, carry a small bottle of sanitiser with me, and wash my hands frequently. And, of course, I try to ensure as much social distancing as possible during all my interactions with people.
How much time do you spend in front of a screen?
Since most of the interactions and meetings are taking place virtually, I end up spending nearly four-five hours daily in front of the screen. Apart from video conferences for work, I also watch news on television to stay updated.
How do you keep your mind off the pandemic?
It has been a tough time for all of us. But we have to learn to live with the virus and make necessary changes in our lifestyle. I enjoy reading and books have always been my favourite companion. I recently finished reading Yayati, a book on the Mahabharata, and I am currently reading Veera Sanyasi, a biography of Swami Vivekananda. I also spend some time with calves at my residence which I find very soothing. I never miss the Mahabharat series which is being broadcast again on television either.
What is the first thing you want to do when the pandemic is past?
There are so many things I wish to do! Once this pandemic becomes a thing of the past, I want to travel across the state, meet people and interact with them to get a first-hand understanding of the challenges that they have been facing. I want to know how the pandemic has changed their lives and devise solutions to their problems.