Karnataka is witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases since May 8, when people stranded in other parts of the country and the world started returning to the state. Of the 351 cases reported since May 8, people returning to the state account for 148.
According to the state’s dashboard, Karnataka has reported 1,056 cases and 36 deaths so far.
Speaking on those returning testing positive, state minister Suresh Kumar said, “They were kept in quarantine as soon as they returned. They were tested in quarantine.”
The return of hundreds of people after relaxation in travel restrictions has started stretching the infrastructure put in place to tackle the outbreak.
On Thursday, 7,195 samples were tested in 38 labs in the state, the highest in a day and close to the full capacity.
“There are 38 labs that can conduct around 200 tests a day. We are at around 7,000 tests a day which is a big jump from 500 a day in April. We hope to have 60 labs in place by May 31 and this will greatly enhance capacity,’’ said Prof V Ravi, head of the neurovirology lab at The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences and a mentor for the labs in Karnataka.
Experts say Karnataka will be able to hold out in the current scenario by using Elisa tests cleared by ICMR, screening tests like Truenat, RT-PCR pool testing along with the regular tests.
“A lot more facilities can be created, but the problem is that many private medical colleges do not have NABL 2 level laboratories which is mandatory for Covid-19 testing,’’ said Prof Ravi.
The return of migrants is also putting pressure on quarantine facilities. The state government is now offering multiple options, from paid hotels to free marriage halls, as quarantine facilities to those returning.
On Thursday, 19 people who came on an air-conditioned train from Delhi chose to return when the train was going back after they were informed at Bengaluru station that they would have to stay in a paid hotel or free government facility for 14 days before they are allowed to go home.