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Second wave of COVID-19 in Karntaka expected during Jan-Feb: TAC

Bengaluru

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for COVID-19 in Karnataka has said that the second wave of the pandemic is expected during January-February in 2021.

The panel has asked to keep ready by first week of January, the clinical facilities at an October level (when there was over 10,000 cases per day) in terms of beds, ICUs, ventilators, and so on, both in government and private hospitals or this could be ramped up at a short notice of 2-3 days maximum.

It has also recommended to ban new year public celebrations from December 26 to January 1 and impose night curfew (8 pm to 5 am) during this period.

The TAC, based on the deliberations at its 53rd meeting held on November 24, has given advisory on recognition and containment measures for the second wave of COVID-19 in Karnataka.

According to TAC, an early recognition of the second wave of COVID-19 in the state can be done by closely monitoring the 7-day average growth rate and reproduction number (R0) at district and state levels.

It said an epidemic intelligence team shall be supporting the state war room for early recognition of the second wave and alerting the Additional Chief Secretary and Commissioner of the Health and Family Welfare department.

Speaking to reporters here, Health Minister Sudhakar said a meeting will be held at the government level regarding the Technical Advisory Committee recommendations.

“Our positivity rate is less than 1.2 per cent.

The report of the Technical Advisory Committee states that there may be a second wave. A meeting regarding it will be held in a couple of days. Based on the outcome of the meet, discussions will be held with the Chief Minister and the final decisions will be taken,” he said.

To a query on the night curfew, he said no decision has been taken. A meeting is yet to take place to discuss the recommendations. There has been a second wave of COVID-19 in USA, Europe, Australia, and other countries. Recently, there has been a surge in cases in Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, and other states, so it is now considered important for Karnataka to prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19.

According to experts the second wave is anticipated usually three to four months after the first spike or wave i.e., January- February 2021. This is factoring in winter, unlocking progress, weak enforcements, population movements, etc. Noting that a minimum of 1.25 lakh tests per day should continue till the end of February 2021, of which 1 lakh shall be RT-PCR ( 1:5 pooled in lab as per state protocol), the TAC advisory recommends for fortnightly testing of all teachers, pupils, and staff in educational institutions, Anganwadi staff, and others by RT-PCR.

On the need for ramping up clinical facilities, it has suggested exploring Covid Care Centres (CCCs) to be run on PPP model with reputed NGOs for better facilities, services, and care. After carefully assessing the COVID-19 situation in the last week of December, graded opening of schools from January may be considered, i.e. classes 12 & 10 to commence initially from January and classes 11 and 9 to follow later on.

TAC has also recommended restriction of mass gatherings like fairs and festivals, religious congregations, cultural events, etc., and to strictly restrict super spreader events during December and January (winter months) like permitting events only in open areas like Marriages, etc. Up to 100; political and public events up to 200; death ceremonies 50; funerals -20.

Suggesting to enforce mask wearing, it said, more marshals/police to fine mask violators in busy areas like markets, bus stops, commercial areas, in buses, at traffic junctions, and to consider introducing tough actions like simple imprisonment of a few hours for mask violators as done in Madhya Pradesh.

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