Karnataka: Amid Omicron concerns, active Covid caseload up by over 25%

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Even as concerns over the Omicron variant of novel coronavirus loom over Karnataka — which reported the country’s first two such cases — the active caseload in the state has seen a rise of over 25 per cent in the first week of December.

According to Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar, the state has witnessed a rise of 27.45 per cent in the seven-day moving average of new Covid-19 cases in the first week of December, compared to a week earlier. “After falling for 6 straight months, Covid numbers are seeing an uptick over the last two weeks in Karnataka. Caution is the word! Mask up Karnataka!,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, data from the state Health Department indicated that the state’s active caseload was 7,067 as on Monday (December 6). The same was 6,878 a week earlier on November 29. However, a closer look at the statistics reveals that new cases detected in districts other than Bengaluru Urban are also on the rise. While 77 per cent of the active caseload on November 29 was from Bengaluru Urban, the same dipped to 73 per cent on Monday.

Noting the rise in cases in some districts, the Centre has also stepped in. As per a letter sent by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, Tumakuru district witnessed a rise of 152.17 per cent in the number of new cases between November 19 and December 2, followed by Dharwad (20.92%), Bengaluru Urban (19.16%), and Mysuru (16.49%).

Further, the Centre has advised the state to implement the “ongoing strategy of test-track-treat-vaccinate-Covid appropriate behaviour to keep the situation under control.”

However, allaying fears of the new variant spreading to more people, the Health Minister on Monday clarified that five contacts of a doctor in Bengaluru had no symptoms of the disease and this shows the importance of vaccination.

“The mild nature of infection in the contacts may be because they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. This is the reason why we believe there will not be severity in those who are vaccinated. This is why we are asking people to complete two doses of vaccination,” Sudhakar said.

“We do not have to be too concerned with this variant. We handled the Delta variant which had a higher level of severity. If we compare Omicron to Delta, then we are not seeing reports of severity of disease anywhere in the world. The only concern is the rapid transmissibility of the variant – to prevent this we need people to be vaccinated,” the Health Minister highlighted.

No international passenger tested positive at Bengaluru airport in Dec: Health Dept

The Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Department on Tuesday clarified that no international arrival, including those from “at-risk countries” has tested positive on arrival at the Bengaluru airport this month.

According to data collated from the airport by the government, as many as 4,225 passengers (including children) landed at the airport from December 1-6 in 17 flights from at-risk countries. While 4,021 of them were subjected to Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT), 309 samples were collected for RT-PCR testing, with all results returning negative.

Meanwhile, 9,889 passengers arrived from other countries during the same timeframe after which tests on arrival indicated all were negative for Covid-19.

Earlier, as per guidelines issued by the Centre, the Karnataka government had made testing on arrival mandatory for all passengers arriving from at-risk countries with 2 per cent random testing stipulated for those arriving from other countries.

130 students positive across schools in Karnataka

School students wearing face masks as a precaution against Covid-19 wait at a bus stop in Bengaluru (AP)

As many as 130 students across schools in Karnataka are, at present, part of the active Covid-19 caseload in the state, the government revealed Monday. According to data collated by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), most of these cases are from Chikkamagaluru (92), Kodagu (11) and Chamarajanagar (7) educational districts.

“While most of these students are asymptomatic, the schools that they are studying in have been sealed for a fortnight, with everyone including staff members being subjected to RT-PCR tests,” a senior DPI official said.

Other education districts with active Covid cases among students from Class I to X were Madhugiri (5), Hassan (4), Bangalore North, Chitradurga, Dharwad, Mysuru (2 each), Shivamogga, Sirsi and Gadag (1 each).

Meanwhile, Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh said the government will not hesitate to postpone exams or halt classes if the situation arises. He, however, maintained that experts were of the opinion that there was no problem in holding regular offline classes.

“We will not backtrack if a need arises to stop exams and schools. However, in the present situation, all experts are of the opinion that there is no problem,” Nagesh told reporters here. The minister said the government is closely monitoring the situation on an hourly basis. He added that the government will make alternative arrangements with a view to avoiding any problem.

“If required we will stop exams. However, the Standard Operating Procedure is maintained very strictly in the exams because we make seating arrangements maintaining physical distance,” Nagesh said.

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