Bengaluru: This evening’s morbid story from the morbid bulletin put out by the Karnataka Department of Health and Family Wealth is that the state finally reached the 500 case mark.
However, this week’s popular premonition that Karnataka, the state that reported the first Covid-19 death in India, would begin a much-dreaded corona acceleration has not yet happened. The increase in new coronavirus poisitive cases recorded this evening was not in the many dozens, but just two and a bit, 26, in fact. Not a lot compared to the northern neighbour Maharashtra which added nearly 400 in the last 24 hours.
Decidedly, the virus has been slower spreading in Karnataka after having taken its first victim on March 14, an Islamic scholar who fell and died after returning from a stay with his son in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. That day there were 6 corona positive cases in Karnataka, and 14 in Maharashtra.
While Karnataka reached 500 today, Maharashtra made that mark way long ago, on April 4. In other words, 21 days ago. This divergence is giving scope to some tempting questions in the WhatsApp groups of Karnataka: Have we really handled it better?
The news has been so bad all around, no one’s really rushing to celebrate. Even politicians, always eager to take credit where none is due, have been circumspect about Karnataka’s numers. The state’s deputy chief minister Dr Aswathnarayan said in an interview with Deccan Chronicle that it helped that state reacted early to the coronavirus threat but there’s still a long way to go to break the chain of the epidemic.
So the cases keep coming: of the 26 new cases reported since Friday evening, 13 were from Bengaluru, 9 from Belagavi and one each from Dakshin Kannada, Chikkaballapura, Mysuru and Mandya. The state government claims credit that there are 10 zero corona districts in the Karnataka.
The notable thing about the 26 new infections reported since Friday evening was that there is a journalist among them. According to sources, the journalist who tested positive is a cameraman with a Kannada news channel. This follows the spread of the infection to more than two dozen journalists in Tamil Nadu, and several other incidents in other states.
The other notable feature of the facts since Friay are that of 13 new cases from Bengaluru, 9 are from the Hongasandra cluster which has formed around one migrant worker living in the Jyothi Nagar slum. He’s been given the number P419, and five of the new cases are his primary contacts, and four secondary.
The Hongasandra cluster has contributed 30 cases to the Karnataka case load.
Health authorities won’t admit it but they draw relief from the fact that cluster cases still contribute a lot of the numbers, which would indicate that the epidemic has not yet reached the community stage and could still be defeated if the red zones could be totally sanitized.
Supporting this case for relief, all the nine cases reported from Belagavi are from the Hirebagevadi locality of that region and all of them are secondary contacts of a positive patient, a 20-year- old male who had a travel history to New Delhi....