Karnataka saw a huge increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in May. From 565 cases on April 30, the number of positive cases rose to 3,221 by May 31 — an almost six-fold increase. And, of the 2,656 patients who tested positive in the month, 1,669 were inter-State travellers.
The numbers doubled from 589 on May 1 to 1,056 on May 15, before shooting up to 3,221 by May 31. This was mainly because of the influx of returnees from other States. The number of cases started shooting up once the State eased lockdown restrictions on May 18. At least nine districts, apart from Bengaluru Urban, reported over 100 cases during this period, and cases in nearly 10 affected districts have had a doubling rate faster than the State average.
Given the surge in numbers, the State, like Kerala, is now focussing mostly on symptomatic cases. Karnataka has also adopted the Centre’s new discharge policy that states that a patient can be discharged after 10 days of hospitalisation without a COVID-19 test if he/she has not had fever and requirement of oxygen on three consecutive days.
Making efforts to conserve the available resources for symptomatic cases and the aged and ailing persons, the State has now projected (based on mathematical modelling) that the number of cases will likely touch two lakh in the coming months.
The State had earlier projected 87,196 cases and had mobilised resources based on these estimates. However, based on the incidence of cases in four countries which have comparable population connectivity — Italy, Iran, China, and Spain — and based on district-wise population, connectivity and density, the Department of Disaster Management has now projected that the number of cases may touch two lakh.
The estimation is that only 15% of the projected positive cases will require hospitalisation and 5% ICU admission in Bengaluru, the hotspots and the rest of Karnataka. The influx has made it inevitable for the authorities to revise quarantine rules that now make institutional quarantine mandatory only for returnees from Maharashtra.
Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education), said the State has been ramping up facilities based on the increase in number of cases. “With the relaxation of the lockdown norms, many people who earlier wanted to return to their home States are now preferring to stay back where they are. We will have to wait and watch if the numbers will stabilise in the next few days,” he said.
C.N. Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, who is the nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, admitted that those home quarantined could be potential carriers of the virus. He said the onus was now on people to ensure the infection does not spread further in the community. “Although the lockdown has been relaxed, people should follow the same precautions they were taking during the lockdown,” he said.