Bengaluru Municipal Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad has warned that the Karnataka government may reintroduce a lockdown if the current scale of social distancing violations across the city and state continue.

Speaking on Friday during a meeting of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which was attended by the various joint commissioners, special commissioners and other BBMP officials, Prasad said that strategies need to be adopted to curb additional Covid-19 clusters from developing in the city.

Already, this month, municipal officials found two major clusters, including a 40-strong concentration of cases among out-of-state nursing students and 137 cases at an apartment complex in Bommanahalli. 

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“We need to strictly enforce social distancing norms as well as compulsory wearing of masks. We cannot ignore these two basic requirements to keep this virus at bay,” he said, adding that even the slightest laxity in implementing these norms could push the government to the brink of lockdown in Bengaluru.

It is a spectre that was raised by members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on Thursday. Dr V Ravi, the well-known virologist who has spearheaded the state’s Covid-19 testing protocols and genomic sequencing, said during a special workshop that further violations of social distancing norms will prompt the government to reintroduce a lockdown. “If we are left with no choice, we will introduce a lockdown once again,” Dr Ravi said.

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However, the BBMP will first attempt to stringently enforce norms before lockdown measures can be considered, explained Rajendra Cholan, Special Commissioner (Health), BBMP. “We are scaling up enforcement to ensure that people follow the norms and we have also started testing of nursing students, and on the advice of the TAC we will also start testing people in the food industry,” Cholan said, adding that there is concern that caterers, waiters and others could trigger superspreader events within mass gatherings.

“Many caterers are from Maharashtra, Kerala and other states, and therefore there is a concern of infection as these states are showing a spike in Covid-19 cases,” Cholan said.

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In the interim, he added that the BBMP was moving quickly to test all students in the 258 nursing colleges and 95 pharmacy colleges falling within the jurisdiction of the BBMP. “So far, we have tested about 4,800 students,” Cholan said. 

During his speech on Friday, the BBMP Commissioner pointed out that he had held a discussion with over 300 Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) to monitor residents of their respective residents for symptoms of the disease. “We cannot afford to have another round of lockdowns,” he said.

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