Bengaluru and six other cities in Karnataka will enforce a night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am starting Saturday, the government announced on Thursday, minutes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged states to announce fresh curbs to tackle soaring COVID-19 cases.
The curfew, which will be in place till April 20, will also be imposed in Mysuru, Mangaluru, Kalaburagi, Bidar, Tumakuru and Manipal, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa announced. “Essential services will continue,” he said.
Karnataka is among 10 states besides Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala and Punjab that have shown a steep rise in the daily COVID-19 cases accounting for 84.21 per cent of the record 1.26 lakh new infections on Thursday, according to the Union Health Ministry.
India’s COVID-19 cases have soared 13-fold in barely two months – a vicious second wave propelled by an open disregard for safety protocols nationwide – that has seen the third-hardest hit country soaring past its mid-September peak of around 98,000 cases a day.
Election rallies led by PM Modi and other major figures, as well as crowded festivals and religious gatherings, have characterised the record resurgence of the new coronavirus.
After quelling the first surge late last year, leaders have let down their guard. Allowing or even encouraging dangerous behaviour, they underestimated the virus, reopening the economy too fast and too broadly, experts say.
Days after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan declared India’s COVID-19 outbreak contained in late January, Mumbai reopened its massive suburban train network and authorities let tens of thousands of visitors into stadiums for international cricket matches.
Many of the country’s 135 crore people ignored masks and social distancing, while politicians including PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah greeted hundreds of thousands of mostly mask-less supporters at election rallies.
With 1.29 crore cases, India remains close behind Brazil and well below the United States, which has recorded more than 3 crore infections. India’s COVID-19 deaths are above 1.66 lakh, although its fatality rate is one of the lowest in the world, partly because of its relatively young population.