BENGALURU: The delay in declaring Covid-19 test results owing to the huge pile-up of samples in Karnataka seems to have caught the attention of the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry. A Central team, which is reviewing the Covid-19 situation in Karnataka, told Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Tuesday that the delay needs to be reduced to effectively contain the spread of the Coronavirus.
The team, comprising Arti Ahuja, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Dr P Raveendran, Director, Emergency Medical Response Centre, held discussions with the CM, other ministers and officials on Karnataka’s strengths and weaknesses in the battle against the pandemic. Armed with a district-wise detailed report on epidemiology, source transmission, nature of spread, etc., the team, while lauding Karnataka’s door-to-door survey to identify vulnerable persons, has asked for more testing, especially in containment zones.
“The priority of the government should be to save lives and to provide treatment. The guidelines for containment zones should be strictly followed,” the Central team is said to have suggested. While apprising the team about Karnataka’s preparedness, the State Government has set itself a deadline of August 15 to set up high-flow oxygen systems in about 15,000 district and taluk government hospitals. For this, Rs 109.10 crore has been set aside from the CM’s Covid-19 relief fund.
The Central team also visited containment zones in Jogupalya and Vasanath Nagar in Bengaluru and interacted with locals and health workers. They also inspected the Covid care centre at Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre and the Covid war room at the BBMP head office and directed the local authorities to take up aggressive testing and contact tracing.
‘Improve contact tracing in containment zones’
A senior BBMP official said, “While we apprised them that over 7,000 samples were being collected and tested every day, they asked us to increase the number to at least 15,000. They also directed us to increase the area of containment zones, have good perimetre control in containment zones and focus more on cluster area control. They also said that contact tracing in containment zones needs to be improved and intensify the search and testing of primary and secondary contacts.”
The central team, which was not happy with the ground situation after its field inspection, told the officials to follow stringent norms in buffer zones of containment zones and aggressively identify underlying areas where cases are more and take control measures in such places.Sources present at the meeting said the Central team has predicted a decrease in the number of active cases in Karnataka in a month if tests are ramped up immediately and the delay in test results are reduced. These two mechanisms, the team suggested, will allow faster, targeted tracing and treatment, thereby containing the spread.
There is no community transmission: Minister
Health Minister B Sriramulu, who spoke to the media after the meeting said the Central team has been informed that Karnataka has not entered the community transmission stage. “The Union Health Ministry team asked for more tests to be conducted in containment zones. They have praised our efforts. We have apprised them that there has been no community spread in the state. Karnataka is still in State 1 and 2 of the pandemic. I reiterate that we haven’t reached Stage 3,” Sriramulu stressed.
Recently, Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar had told TNIE that there was no denying community transmission in the state, given the number of cases with no travel or contact history. As of Monday, of the cumulative 25,317 cases reported in Karnataka, the source of transmission for 13,019 cases (including ILI and SARI) were still unknown.