August 14, 2021 10:17:36 pm
Karnataka’s Covid-19 expert committee has advised the state government to open higher classes in schools but added that it should shut down schools in regions where the test positivity rate is above two per cent.
Classes 9-12 are scheduled to begin from August 23 in Karnataka.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai met the advisory committee Saturday and agreed to the recommendation of closing schools.
The test positivity rate is at present above two per cent in the districts of Dakshina Kannada (3.98 per cent), Chikamagaluru (3.24 per cent), Kodagu (2.71 per cent), Udupi (2.42 per cent) and Hassan (2.23 per cent).
“We have decided to open the schools for classes nine to 12 in the districts where the positivity rate is less than two percent. In the districts with more than two percent positivity rate we are not allowing schools to reopen. All parents, teachers and staff must be vaccinated. Without vaccination they cannot enter the school premises,” CM Bommai said following the meeting with technical experts.
“They have said (technical experts) that once schools are opened if the positivity goes above two percent in the area, province where the school is located then the school should be closed for a week and cleaned and then re-opened. We have agreed,” Bommai said.
“The districts in which the Covid prevalence is high – especially the border districts of Kerala and Maharashtra the schools should not be opened and only the districts where positivity is below two percent schools will be opened,” he said.
In the city of Bengaluru where the positivity rate is 0.75 percent schools will open for the higher classes next week. “An SOP is ready for the schools to start functioning – batches will come in on alternate days and classes will be held with sufficient social distancing,” he said.
The technical advisory committee has asked the state government to keep a strict vigil on Covid 19 numbers in order to prevent an uncontrolled third wave, the chief minister said. The experts are of the view that the second wave is still prevalent and the third wave has not begun as yet, Bommai said.
“One of the observations that was made was that when the first wave was ending the number of cases were 200 to 300 and that now at the end of the second wave the cases are as high as 1400 to 1800. They have said that we must watch the situation very carefully,” he said.
The alarm bells should start ringing if the test positivity rate is in excess of two percent and oxygenated beds start filling up. “If 40 percent of oxygenated beds get filled it is a cause for alarm. At present hospitalisation is very low,” Bommai said.
The state government has decided to approach the central health ministry with a request to increase the supply of vaccines from the current 65 lakh doses in a month to one crore in order to increase vaccination in the state, he said. As part of the current efforts to control the spread of the virus the government will vaccinate people in all villages within a 10 km distance of the borders of Kerala and Maharashtra, Bommai said.
“We have done four crore vaccinations, we have 14.89 lakh vaccine doses as of today. We will get another 30 lakh by the end of the month. We want one crore and we are meeting the health minister to increase supplies from 65 lakh to one crore,” the Karnataka CM indicated.
The state will issue orders to set up six new genomic sequencing labs in the districts to keep a track on Covid 19 virus variants that are in prevalence in the state. “The behaviour of the Delta variant has to be studied and we have to watch out for any new variants that could emerge. Now we have four labs but we want more sequencing data,” Bommai said.
The Karnataka chief minister said that it was important to insist on RT-PCR tests from travellers arriving from Kerala to border districts due to the high prevalence of cases in the neighboring state.
“The first wave started in Kerala and in the second wave there is a high number of cases in Kerala at present and as a result we have to control the spread in Karnataka. It has a big impact on our health infrastructure and lives and it is our responsibility to protect lives. Instead of filing cases in the Kerala HC the focus in Kerala should be on the control of the spread of the disease,” the Karnataka chief minister said.
The state government has decided to extend restrictions that were in prevalence for the last two weeks – including night curfews and weekend curfews in border districts – for two more weeks. Restrictions put in place for festivals and celebrations in 2020 will be reimposed for the coming festival season as well, Bommai said.
The districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Mysuru, Hassan, Kodagu, Bengaluru Rural, Shimoga, Chikamagalur, Chamarajanagar should have more vaccinations and testing, the experts have said. The districts of Raichur, Gulbarga, Ballari, Bidar, Koppal, Haveri, Bijapur, Tumkur, Bengaluru Rural must have more testing, the experts have said.
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