The civic body, which had eased restrictions considerably, is reverting to a more stringent containment strategy to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in Bengaluru. Localities where the number of COVID-19 cases has seen a sudden rise in five wards – Siddapura, V.V. Puram, Kalasipalya, Dharmaraya Swamy Temple and Vidyaranyapura – will be sealed. However, the exact number of cases in these wards was not available.
B.H. Anil Kumar, Commissioner of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), who also heads a special task force formed to check the spread of the pandemic in the city, allayed fears that entire wards will be locked down. “We will be sealing only localities within these wards where the number of cases have seen an increase. It will be done following discussions with the police,” he told The Hindu, and added that this may come into effect immediately.
In a video message on Monday, the Commissioner said that following the lifting of restrictions imposed during the lockdown, the number of positive cases in the city had gone up. “This was discussed during a meeting chaired by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa. We now have to look at sealing down localities to prevent further spread in the city,” he said.
Restrictions on movement
“During the meeting, the Chief Minister stressed on the need to restrict the movement of people. Once the area/locality has been sealed, nobody will be allowed to go in or come out,” said Mr. Kumar.
Civic officials said they will work with the police and other agencies to ensure that essential supplies are made available to people in affected areas.
The announcement has sparked off panic buying among many residents.
Pawan Koppa, a software engineer and resident of NTI Layout in Vidyaranyapura, said that he checks Arogya Setu regularly for the number of cases reported from his locality. “There are no cases as of now. But if the BBMP is thinking of sealing localities in the ward, it means that the number of cases has increased. That is serious and worrisome at the same time,” he said.
Also, Mr. Anil Kumar issued an order stating that Krishna Rajendra Market and Kalasipalya market would remain closed for the next 15 days.
By then, many traders had already decided to voluntarily shut down due to the increased number of cases in surrounding areas.
G.M. Divakar, president of the K.R. Market Flower Merchants’ Association, said that all the 2,200 shop owners had consented to close the market, which had reopened on June 8. This, he said, was in the interest of public health.
Traders of Chikpete also volunteered to put in place a one-week lockdown. However, traders of major associations related to textiles, garments, paper, chemicals, steel, switchgear and silk retailers claimed that they were not in support of the self-imposed lockdown.
Sajjan Raj Mehta, trade activist, maintained that if the government or BBMP were to announce a lockdown, all the traders’ associations would extend their support.