The Karnataka government on Saturday decided to delegate powers to manage COVID-19 to the district authorities instead of taking a statewide call on restrictions and lockdown. It also decided not to open schools in the districts where the positivity rate is above two per cent.
The government came up with district specific plans as the Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19 was of the opinion that the second wave was not over."We cannot formulate a statewide COVID-19 management plan. It should be district specific," Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters after chairing a meeting with the experts, ministerial colleagues and officers.
He said the decision on restrictions will be taken based on the positivity rate in the district concerned. According to Bommai, the experts expressed concern that the positivity rate was not dipping and lingering between 1,600 to 1,800 cases per day. Towards the end of first wave, the cases had come down to 300 cases a day, he explained.
"We have to prevent COVID-19 because this disease is still around. Since the cases are still remaining between 1,600 and 1,800, we need to be careful," he said. It was decided in the meeting to increase vaccination and testing in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Mysuru, Hassan, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga and Bengaluru Rural.
Further, the testing and vaccination should be increased in the villages up to 10 km inside Karnataka from Kerala and Maharashtra borders, which are witnessing spurt in cases. Testing should also be increased in Bengaluru, Raichur, Kalaburagi, Ballari, Bidar, Koppal, Haveri, Vijayapura, Tumakuru and Chikkamagaluru, the chief minister said.
The government also decided to set up six genome testing labs in the next three weeks in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Shivamogga, Kalaburagi and Belagavi to track the new variants. Regarding vaccination, the chief minister said as of Saturday four crore people have been vaccinated. The state has a stock of about 15 lakh vaccines while it will receive 30 lakh by the month end."We are demanding more vaccines. Next week I am going to meet the union health minister. We are getting 65 lakh vials every month, which should be increased to one crore. If that arrives, we can vaccinate all the districts," Bommai said.
About Bengaluru city, he said he said bed and ICU facilities should be increased for children. He noted that the positivity rate is 0.75 in the city."At present, hospitalisation is very less. If 40 per cent of the oxygen beds are occupied, then further strict rules will be adopted. This power has been given to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike commissioner," Bommai said.
To a question, the chief minister said a case has been filed in the Kerala High Court against Karnataka for insisting upon a negative RT-PCR test report for people arriving from that state."It's a different matter that we will fight it out legally but I would like to say that the first wave started from Kerala and maximum cases related to second wave is in Kerala. Hence, Kerala has to control COVID cases," the chief minister said.
He said Kerala's failure in containing COVID is causing trouble to Karnataka, which has been impacting the health infrastructure and human lives."It's my opinion that controlling COVID is better than filing cases in the High Court," Bommai quipped.
Regarding opening of schools, the chief minister said schools will be opened from September 23 and not August 23. The classes will resume in two batches alternatively."The Standard Operating Procedure is ready regarding how many students should be allowed and what precautions to be taken," the CM added.
With regard to festivals, Bommai said guidelines and conditions would continue this year as well.