Covid-19 panel favours phased opening of schools from January

Class 12, 10 to open first; recommends night curfew, ban on New Year celebrations

Published: 03rd December 2020 06:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2020 06:12 AM   |  A+A-

File photo of Vidyagama session in progress at a school in Ballari district | Express

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: With the second Covid-19 wave expected in January-February 2021, the Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has advised careful assessment of the situation in December last week, and recommended a graded opening of schools from January, starting with Class 12 and 10, and Class 11 and 9 to follow later. The TAC submitted a report to the government on containment measures for the second wave in Karnataka.

“Early recognition of the second wave of Covid-19 in the state can be done by closely monitoring a 7-day average growth rate and reproduction number (R0) at the district and state levels. An epidemic intelligence team shall be supporting the State War Room for early recognition of the second wave,” the report says. 

The second wave is usually anticipated three to four months after the first spike or wave, and could occur due to winter, unlock in progress, weak enforcement and population movement, say experts.

“The month of December will be used for revising curriculum, planning examinations and preparing classrooms for Covid-19 compliance, providing hot water, procuring masks, disinfectant, sanitiser in hostel rooms, bath, toilets and mess. In the meantime, the effect of opening of colleges from November 17 will be known for planning further,” the committee said. 

The experts also recommended banning New Year public celebrations from December 26 to January 1, with imposition of night curfew from 8pm to 5am during this period.

The committee put forth a slew of recommendationsn

  • A minimum of 1.25 lakh tests per day till the end of February 2021, of which 1 lakh will be RT-PCR (1:5 pooled in lab as per state protocol) 
  • Fortnightly RT-PCR tests of all teachers, pupils, staff in educational institutions, Anganwadi staff and others 
  •  By first week of January, keep ready ambulances and clinical facilities like beds, ICUs, ventilators etc at October 2020 level 
  • Plan for Covid Care Centres to be run on PPP model with reputed NGOs 
  •  Restrictions on mass gatherings like fairs, festivals, religious congregations, cultural events, etc 
  •  Strictly restrict superspreader events in December and January (winter) with permission for events only in open areas such as marriages (up to 100 people), political and public events (up to 200), death ceremonies (50) and funerals (20) 
  • Unlocking of swimming pools, sports clubs etc to be delayed till February 2021

How to recognise the second wave

  •  7-day Average Growth Rate to be used as indicator
  •  1st wave should have been contained, i.e. Ro below 1.5
  •  Test positivity rate shoots up beyond expectancy, with no change in testing pattern 
  •  Hospitalisation doubles 
  • Low infection rate sustained for at least one month
  •  Steady increase in case numbers over 2-3 weeks 

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