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Amid Omicron scare, isolation wards to be kept ready in Bengaluru

Testing, quarantine must for international passengers; safety guidelines to be strictly enforced 

Published: 02nd December 2021 06:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd December 2021 06:45 AM   |  A+A-

A health worker collects swab samples of a man at a primary health centre on Kamaraj Road in Bengaluru on Wednesday | Vinod Kumar T

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Separate isolation wards will be created in government hospitals and medical college hospitals to treat international passengers who test Covid-19 positive and are found to have the Omicron variant, Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar said. A meeting was held with health and district officials in this regard on Tuesday, and another meeting will be held with BBMP officials to prepare hospitals in the city for the same. 

On Thursday, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will also meet Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to put forward the need for booster doses for health and frontline workers. “Waning of antibodies has been observed among people who took Covid vaccines early. Hence, booster doses might be required,” Sudhakar said. 

He also said that as of now, it is not very clear how Omicron will impact children, though it is known to be a very fast-spreading virus. The central government is also contemplating the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines for children, which are expected to be available at the earliest. 

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee has recommended that the government penalise people or curtail government services for those who have not taken both doses of the vaccine. “We felt such measures would not bring a good name to the government, so we will not take such steps. Instead, people will be convinced to take the vaccine and we will address vaccine hesitancy. In the past few days, the number of people taking the vaccine has increased. The door-to-door vaccine campaign is also picking up pace,” Sudhakar said, adding that there is no shortage of vaccines. 

Tele-medicine, increasing the number of tests, mandatory masking up and other safety guidelines will be strictly enforced. If cases increase, other measures will be introduced. There has been no discussion yet on stamping the hands of quarantined individuals, Christmas and New Year celebrations. 

All international passengers will be tested at Karnataka airports from Wednesday, though the central government has mandated that only 5 per cent of them be randomly tested. Those who test negative will be quarantined at home for seven days, and their health monitored during this time. 

Those who are symptomatic and whose reports come negative, will be tested again on the fifth day. They are free to move around only with a negative report. If the RT-PCR report comes positive, they will be hospitalised and treated. Passengers may face some delay because testing is mandatory, but it is inevitable, the minister said.

Samples to be sent to INSACOG labs 

Districts are to send Covid-19 samples to INSACOG laboratories for genome sequencing, through 10 identified centres in the state. The two INSACOG labs in Karnataka are in NCBS and Nimhans. Samples are not to be sent to private or non-INSACOG labs.

  •  Bengaluru Urban, BBMP, Kolar, Chikkaballapura, Ramanagara: BMCRI 
  •  Bengaluru Rural, BIAL, Chitradurga: Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, Bengaluru 
  •  Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada: Wenlock Hospital, Mangaluru 
  •  Belagavi, Dharwad, Gadag, Bagalkote, Koppal, Haveri: Belagavi Institute of Health Sciences
  •  Bidar, Yadgir, Raichur, Ballari: Bidar Institute of Health Sciences 
  •  Mysuru, Mandya, Chamarajanagar, Kodagu: MMCRI 
  •  Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, Davanagere: Hassan Institute of Health Sciences 
  •  Kalaburagi, Vijayapura: Gulbarga Institute of Health Sciences 

New norms to check omicron

  • Only travellers arriving from at-risk countries — UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel — to be tested 
  • If negative, travellers will follow home quarantine for seven days, get re-tested on eighth day, and if test comes negative, will monitor their own health for another week
  • If positive, their samples will be sent for genomic sequencing to INSACOG lab network, and kept at separate isolation facility 
  • Contacts will also be kept under institutional or home quarantine 
  • Travellers from countries not considered at-risk, will be allowed to leave the airport and shall self-monitor their health for 14 days 
  • Even among them, 2% of travellers will be randomly tested, and if positive, their samples will be sent for genomic sequencing 
  • Travellers must submit self-declaration form online on Air Suvidha portalbefore the travel  
  • Travellers must upload negative RT-PCR test report, conducted within 72 hours prior to journey 


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