BENGALURU: Separate isolation wards will be created in government hospitals and government medical college hospitals to treat international passengers who test positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19, said Karnataka Health and Medical Education Minister Sudhakar.
A meeting was held with health officials and district officials in this regard on Tuesday and another meeting will be held with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials to make sure that hospitals in the city are prepared.
In addition to this, on December 2 or 3, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will have a meeting with Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to put forward the need for booster doses for health and frontline workers.
"Antibody waning has been observed among people who took the COVID-19 vaccines earlier. Hence, booster doses might be required," Sudhakar said.
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He also said that, as of now, it is not very clear how Omicron will impact children but it is a very fast-spreading virus. The central government is also contemplating the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for children. It is expected to be available at the earliest.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee has recommended that the government impose penalties 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 wearing of masks 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 with a seal and on Christmas and New Year celebrations.
All international passengers will be tested at Karnataka airports from Wednesday though the central government has mandated only 5 percent of them be randomly tested. Those who test negative will be quarantined at home for seven days and their health monitored during this time.
For those who are symptomatic but whose reports are negative, they will be tested again on the fifth day. They are free to move only if a negative report comes out then. If the RTPCR report is positive, they will be hospitalized and treated. Passengers may face some delay because testing is mandatory, but it is inevitable, the minister said.