The Karnataka government on Saturday made negative RT-PCR test report mandatory for those entering the state from Maharastra by flight, bus, train or private vehicles in view of the rising coronavirus cases.
“The negative RT-PCR report shall be verified at the time of boarding by airlines’ staff. For those travelling by bus, tickets shall be issued on production of a negative RT-PCR report or shall be checked by the bus conductor when those who booked tickets online board the bus. In trains, the TTEs shall check the negative RT-PCR test report,” the circular said.
The decision was taken after Maharashtra recently recorded over 6,000 new virus cases for the first time in months. “Mumbai has reported a near-doubling of the number of Covid-19 positive cases from around 350 per day to 645 per day within a week. Amravati, Nagpur, Pune, and other cities in Maharashtra are also reporting a significant rise in the number of cases.” the circular read.
The government advised hostels and colleges to not allow visitors or relatives without obtaining permission from the covid nodal officers. “A list of students travelling to and from Maharashtra from hostel/college should be maintained by a competent authority. The students shall compulsorily produce RT-PCR negative test reports each time they return from Maharashtra and till the situation improves,” it said. Those who have arrived from Maharashtra in the past two weeks are also required to undergo the mandatory covid-19 test, it added.
Urging people to take necessary precautions, while cautioning about the possible second wave of COVID-19, Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar said according to experts till March end it is crucial. Also ruling out any COVID curbs like lockdown or curfew measures in Karnataka for now, he said the state has not come to that situation and all necessary precautions were being taken so that the state does not reach such a stage.
The Minister also said the health department is seeking cooperation from Home and Revenue departments besides district administrations to control COVID spread in districts bordering Kerala and Maharashtra, states that have seen a spike in cases in recent days. Karnataka has issued new guidelines mandating all those coming from Kerala and Maharashtra to the state to carry a negative RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours.
“There are laws on one side, but civic senseis also required in protecting our own health, so people of the state have to understand and make necessary changes in their conduct by following necessary precautions… till March end is an important stage according to the technical advisory committee report,” Sudhakar said. Speaking to reporters here, he said necessary precautions have to be taken at least till March end by compulsorily following things like wearing masks, maintaining distance, and all those who have the opportunity should get vaccinated.
“The Union Health Ministry has said vaccinations are likely to be given to common citizens from March….now frontline warriors and health workers should take vaccines,” he said. Further stating that there is no spike in the number of cases in Karnataka and the mortality rate is 1.3 per cent, the Minister said, “we will have to stop the possible second wave in the same way.” “There is a sense about the second wave coming in Maharashtra and Kerala. It should not come in our state, we have to control it,” he said.
Noting that three kinds of strains from South Africa, UK and Brazil have been identified, Sudhakar said “we have been able to control the spread of UK variant in the state through returnees from there, by taking adequate precautions including genomic study.” “With Brazilian and South African strain also around, we have to take adequate caution. They are already present in parts of the country,” he said. Stating that Maharashtra and Keralafor the last few weeks have seen a spike in cases, Sudhakar said about ten districts share borders with these two states and it is time for Karnataka be cautious.
“We are also thinking about what is to be done for those coming by air from the two states.” As per the guidelines by the state COVID Technical Advisory Committee, it mandates all those coming from Kerala and Maharashtra to the state to carry a negative RT-PCR test report. “To implement the guidelines fully we will soon, by today or tomorrow, be holding meetings with district administrations, Home and Revenue Ministers and senior officials, and seek their cooperation,” he added.
Terming it as “unfortunate” that many working in the health sector have still not taken the vaccination yet, Sudhakar said till now only 51 per cent have taken the vaccine, and called on Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Medical students and other health care workers, also frontline workers to take the vaccine. “District administrations should also take it seriously. As per research even if those who have taken the vaccine are infected by the virus, death is very unlikely….despite vaccines being administered freely by the government the act of irresponsibility or laziness by not taking the vaccine was not right,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)