Admitting that Covid pandemic was still rampant in Karnataka, state Health Minister K. Sudhakar on Monday said only 300 guests would be allowed to watch the grand finale of the 10-day Dasara festival on October 26 in the royal palace grounds here.
"As Covid spread is still rampant in the state, the Dasara fest will be celebrated in a simple manner this time, with 300 people allowed to witness the royal parade on its 10th day (Vijayadashmi) to mark the victory of triumph over evil in the Amba Vilas palace grounds," Sudhakar told reporters here.
As the city of palaces and cultural capital of Karnataka, Mysuru is about 150 km southwest of Bengaluru in the southern state.
The world famous 10-day Mysuru Dasara festival is celebrated every year in September-October as per the Hindu calendar, with religious and cultural events, in which the royal family of the Wodeyar dynasty participates and the state government hosts it with the help of the citizens.
"In view of the state government guidelines to restrict large gatherings to contain the virus spread, people can watch the proceedings from their home as the various religious and cultural events from October 17 will be telecast live from the palace venue," said Sudhakar.
Sudhakar, a medical doctor by profession, has been entrusted with the health and family welfare department in addition to the medical education portfolio from Monday to rein in the pandemic, which broke in the state in mid-March.
Ranking second to Maharashtra, Karnataka's Covid tally rose to a whopping 7,17,915 till Sunday, including 1,15,776 active cases and 10,036 deaths due to the infection across the state since the virus broke on March 8.
With Mysuru accounting for the largest number of cases after Bengaluru in Karnataka, the beleaguered government has decided to keep the yearly fest low-key, cancelling outdoor religious and cultural activities, including a 5-km victory procession from the royal palace to Bannimantap grounds across the city for torch light parade on October 26 night.
Of the state's Covid tally, Mysuru registered 42,373 positive cases till Sunday, with 7,123 active, including 309 new cases, while 34,357 were discharged so far and 893 succumbing to the infection since March.
"While 590 beds are available for Covid patients in the state-run hospitals across the city, 428 additional beds will be available in a week to augment the capacity," reiterated Sudhakar.
Though charges have been fixed for Covid treatment in private hospitals, the state government will pay for patients referred by its health department in the event of bed shortage in the state-run hospitals in the city.
Noting that delay in detecting and reporting the cases to hospitals was one of the reasons for higher mortality rate, the minister said measures were being taken to ensure early detection and treatment to minimise deaths.
"The emphasis will be on tele-medicine and home isolation across the district. More labs will be set to double testing in the city to 4,000 from 2,000 per day," noted Sudhakar.
Hoping to control the virus spread in a week or so, the minister said people should strictly follow the guidelines to wear a mask, maintain physical distance and wash hands with sanitizer regularly.
Mysuru's deputy commissioner Rohini Sindhuri and state health department additional chief secretary Javed Akhtar participated in the review meeting.