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Omicron: Karnataka govt seeks ban on travellers from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong

It has been decided to place such travellers who have tested positive for the infection under “institutional isolation” for 10 days apart from their samples mandatorily sent for whole-genome sequencing (WGS) “on a fast-track basis.”

All passengers arriving from these countries are being compulsorily tested at the airports they would be isolated if they are Covid-positive.

Amid the Omicron threat and also new Covid-19 clusters being reported in the state, the Karnataka government has requested the Centre to impose a ban on travellers from South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong.

“We have requested the Centre to ban arrival of passengers from these three countries where cases attributed to the new strain have been detected,” Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters in Bengaluru.

He added that all passengers arriving from these countries are being compulsorily tested at the airports they would be isolated if they are Covid-positive. “Those who test positive will be shifted to nearby facilities for treatment,” he added.

Further, the state government also decided to intensify various surveillance measures. As per recommendations made by the Covid-19 technical advisory committee (TAC) to the state government, the health and family welfare department has instructed officials to track and conduct “repeat RT-PCR testing” for those arriving from “high-risk” countries where cases with the Omnicron variant were detected.

“All international travellers from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong who have arrived in the last 15 days (since November 12) should be tracked and subjected to repeat RT-PCR testing,” the addendum circular issued by principal secretary (health & family Welfare) T K Anil Kumar read.

Further, it has been decided to place such travellers who have tested positive for the infection under “institutional isolation” for 10 days apart from their samples mandatorily sent for whole-genome sequencing (WGS) “on a fast-track basis.”

Earlier, the state government had decided to “closely track” contacts of those arriving from these countries. The decision was taken given the directions issued by the Union Health Ministry to rigorously screen and test travellers coming from these countries.

Kerala medical students to undergo repeat RT-PCR tests

The Karnataka government Sunday issued an order stating all students of medical, paramedical colleges who have arrived in the state from Kerala since November 12 will be subjected to repeat RT-PCR testing.

The decision has been taken in the wake of new Covid clusters being identified in institutions at Bengaluru, Dharwad and Mysuru recently, an order issued by the Health Secretary mentioned.

TAC recommends containment measures for clusters at Bengaluru school, Dharwad medical college

A couple of days since new Covid-19 clusters were identified at a private medical college in Dharwad and a couple of residential schools in Bengaluru, the TAC recommended implementation of enhanced containment measures, instructing officials to ensure “strict compliance” with them.

While it has been made mandatory that samples of those testing positive in these clusters should be sent for WGS on priority, it was directed that separate nodal officers should be appointed for overall general supervision and coordination of containment measures at The International School in Bengaluru’s Dommasandra and SDM College of Medical Sciences and Hospital (SDMSH) in Dharwad.

“With SDMSH being a healthcare institution, we have recommended that the nodal officer should be appointed from the Department of Internal Medicine or Respiratory Medicine to oversee all standard treatment and public health protocols are adhered to, at all times round the clock,” a senior TAC member told The Indian Express.

Karnataka revises daily Covid-19 testing targets

Further, in a bid to “strengthen Covid-19 surveillance” across the state, the TAC has recommended to conduct 20,000 more tests daily. The target has now been set at 80,000 tests daily.

“While targeted testing of ILI (Influenza-like Illness), SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Infection) cases, their contacts and high-risk groups will continue, random testing of selected groups will also be conducted each fortnight,” the TAC member explained.

A detailed circular which was issued mentioned the selected groups as students and teachers in colleges and high schools; hotel and restaurant staff; shopkeepers in malls, markets; catering staff and doorstep-delivery personnel; factory workers; officer-goers; service staff in pubs, bars; attendants in cinema halls, multiplexes; and others “in crowds by vocation”.

Meanwhile, district administrations have been asked to ensure that up to 50 per cent of such samples collected should be from the district headquarters and the rest from rural areas, “ensuring that 10 per cent of the total samples are taken from children”.

As per the revised targets, 5,000 more tests will be conducted in the Bengaluru municipal area daily.

Meanwhile, 315 new cases were reported in the state on Sunday, and the test positivity rate is now at 0.40 per cent.

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