Karnataka Health Minister Dr Sudhakar K Thursday urged the public to take the booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in the wake of a surge in Covid-19 cases in Karnataka. He said that while the coverage for the first and second doses of vaccines reached hundred per cent, for the booster dose, it is only 17 per cent.
“Covid positivity rate is on the rise in some parts of the state and I urge everyone to get their precaution dose and continue to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour. Not taking the booster dose, even when it has been made available free for everyone, amounts to negligence and we as responsible citizens must avail booster shots to enhance immunity,” the minister said during a press conference after holding a meeting with the technical advisory committee (TAC).
“The youth should take the responsibility of getting their families vaccinated. Make sure you and your family get the booster dose. Some initially blamed the government for making the booster dose paid. The reason for low coverage was that many had become complacent and overconfident that nothing would happen to them as they had survived the previous Covid-19 waves. The entire nation is seeing an uptick in the Covid positivity rate and Delhi currently has a positivity rate of over 18 per cent. The average positivity rate of Karnataka is 7.2 per cent at the moment. However, the positivity rate is higher than the state average of 7.2 per cent in cities like Bengaluru, Shivamogga, Bagalkot and Bellary. Dharwad currently has the highest positivity rate,” said Sudhakar.
He informed that the state was conducting 30,000 Covid tests every day and adhering to the Union government’s guidelines of testing only symptomatic people. “Even in the case of primary contacts, only those who are symptomatic are being tested. Experts across the world have said that the immunity decreases or wanes after six-seven months of taking the vaccine and the booster dose would be required to boost immunity again. The booster dose helps reduce hospitalisations and deaths,” said Sudhakar.
He further highlighted the need for those above the age of 60 and those with comorbidities to take the booster dose stating that most Covid deaths in recent days have been in those who had other comorbidities that worsened the effects of the disease.
Sudhakar informed that Corbevax has been given approval by the Union government for use as the booster dose and it would be inaugurated Friday. He further stated that Corbevax could be taken as the booster dose irrespective of whether an individual had taken Covaxin or Covishield for their first and second doses.
Reacting to the complaints of private hospitals refusing treatment for Covid patients, Sudhakar stated: “No hospital can deny treatment for a Covid patient with an excuse that they do not treat Covid-19. Every hospital must treat Covid-19 patients in isolation wards. I have received many complaints that many hospitals denied treatment like this. This is not just inhumane but also illegal. If any such complaints are received, strict action will be taken under the KPME (Karnataka Private Medical Establishment) and Epidemic act.”
On August 10, the state reported 1,680 new Covid cases taking the active case tally to 10,351.
Speaking about monkeypox, minister Sudhakar stated that the TAC took a comprehensive view of the whole situation. “Till now, a total of nine cases, five in Kerala and four in Delhi have been detected. As of now, we have not seen even a single case in Karnataka, however, surveillance and necessary precautions are being undertaken at the border districts. Hospitals have been prepared with all the necessities. Our government will continue to take precautionary measures including thermal screening at airports, testing of symptomatic and isolation of suspected persons, with a special focus on districts bordering Kerala,” he said.
Sudhakar also stated that the TAC discussed other vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria, H1N1 and chikungunya and also said that there was an uptick in the number of such cases, except malaria, due to heavy rains and floods that Karnataka recently witnessed. He said that most cases were detected in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) area within Bengaluru Urban, Mysuru, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Hassan.
Unlike last year, the government has not framed any guidelines for the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi which will be held by the end of the month.
A senior BBMP official said, “Based on the inputs by the TAC the guidelines will be framed. I think it is too early. We still have time. Once TAC discusses the issue we will come out with guidelines.”