As the cumulative count of Covid-19 cases in Karnataka since March 8 surpassed the nine lakh-mark recently, the trend has changed drastically as compared to the same when the state marked the milestone of passing the last couple of lakh cases.
For instance, Karnataka breached the seven lakh-mark on October 10 with the positivity rate recorded at 9.33 per cent. As many as 10,517 people had contracted Covid-19 on the same day with 102 more deaths added to the tally from across the state.
A fortnight later, the numbers dropped when the state passed the eight lakh-mark on October 25 when the positivity rate for the day was 4.41 per cent. On the same day, 4,439 more people had contracted the infection while 32 Covid-19 deaths were recorded. The daily positivity rate has not crossed 2 per cent in the state since November 15.
The state’s experience of containing the pandemic, along with the drop in numbers has contributed towards better preparations for a possible ‘second wave’ predicted in January and February 2021.
Among major announcements made by the government are equipping government hospitals at the district and taluk levels with oxygen generators. “Ten district hospitals and 30 taluk hospitals have been provided with Rs 37.72 crore to procure oxygen generators and other equipment,” Health and Medical Education Minister Sudhakar said after a meeting with the Covid-19 task force in Bengaluru.
He added that another Rs 22.5 crore has been set aside by the government to combat a possible second wave. “We have discussed various points to contain the spread of coronavirus infection for the next 90 days. Rs 11.32 crore has been set aside for purchasing rapid antigen kits and another Rs 22.50 crore is earmarked for medicine purchase,” Sudhakar added.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru (Urban) continues to be the hotspot of Covid-19 in Karnataka when compared to other districts with the capital reporting nearly 42 per cent of the total caseload in the state to date. To compare, Mysuru, the second most-affected district has reported 51,469 cases cumulatively as on December 14.
As private hospitals witnessed huge demand in Bengaluru when Covid-19 transmission rate was at its peak, they are equipped better this time. “We are better prepared than the first wave. We don’t have much anxiety and the treatment protocol is fine-tuned,” Dr Chinnadurai R, Lead Consultant, Department of Critical Care, Aster RV Hospital told Indianexpress.com. He attributed the dip in death rate to the implementation of strict treatment guidelines stipulated by the government.
However, even as Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka continue to report very few cases as compared to the same in September and October, doctors do not deny the possibility of a rise in asymptomatic cases. “There are possibilities that the number of asymptomatic patients was high, who might have already got immunity now. The other reason is that people are more diligent about using masks, social distancing and there is more awareness about Covid-19 these days than before,” Dr Chinnadurai added.
At the same time, Dr Jagadish Hiremath of ACE Suhas Hospital in Jigani lauded the government’s efforts to contain the spread. He added, “A recent study had pointed out that underdeveloped countries where people are exposed to all viruses and bacterias have less serious infection of Covid and more resistance to the virus. I feel we might have achieved herd immunity to some extent already which could be the key for us having these low numbers now.”
This being said, government officials and healthcare professionals also continue to warn citizens not to be complacent. Munish Moudgil, in-charge of the Karnataka Covid-19 war room pointed out that even a single Covid-19 infected individual who is not cautious might burden the state with more positive cases.
Speaking at a virtual panel discussion organised by the Bangalore Apartment’s Federation, he explained, “If one person infects two people on an average, it leads to two lakh cases in 14 days. We need to watch individual behaviour and should wear a mask while being out in public and should follow all safety protocols. This will be a determining factor for the second wave.”
Meanwhile, doctors continue to urge people with comorbidities to be extra cautious. “We are seeing sporadic cases admitted in our hospital and ICU, most of them with Diabetes,” Chinnadurai said. Dr Hiremath highlighted that the aged, the immuno-compromised and those with organ dysfunction or failure should stay alert and safe.
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According to Minister Sudhakar, the winter period from December to February is conducive to the spread of coronavirus. “There are all possibilities of a second Covid wave during the initial months of 2021 for which we have to be extra cautious from December 20 to January 2. These days would be the most crucial period for us,” he warned, asking people not to gather together to celebrate New Year.
As per statistics provided by the Department of Health and Family Welfare Services, 11,954 people have succumbed to the infection in Karnataka of which nearly 15 per cent are in Bengaluru. Over 8.74 lakh people have recovered from Covid-19 so far, in the past nine months.
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