Karnataka advised to make masks mandatory again, encourage Covid booster uptake

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Karnataka’s Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 has suggested the state government introduce the wearing of face masks in closed or indoor spaces and request people to take booster shots of coronavirus vaccines.

This follows the health ministry’s directive for the states–issued in the wake of a surge in infections in Japan, the US, Brazil, China and other countries–to send Covid-positive samples to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) for genome sequencing.

A committee member said, “We will be suggesting the government issue directives on the wearing of masks in closed or indoor spaces and ask the people to take booster shots. Those who are symptomatic should get tested immediately. Moreover, sewage surveillance should be stepped up.”

Though the government has not mandated masks again, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has urged the residents to adopt Covid-appropriate behaviour. “We have been sending the Covid-positive samples to INSACOG and sewage samples are also being monitored. There is no concern that we have seen. The surveillance measures will be stepped up,” Dr K V Trilok Chandra, BBMP special commissioner (health) told indianexpress.com. “Moreover, those who have not taken booster doses should take them soon.”

Speaking to the media in Belagavi, Health Minister K Sudhakar said passengers at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport would soon be screened for Covid infections. “We will have to take certain precautionary measures in the wake of the global situation. KIAL (Kempegowda International Airport Limited) has a high inflow of international passengers. We will start screening passengers there. While we have achieved 100 per cent coverage in two doses, the precaution dose is yet to to be taken by a lot of people. All those who are yet to get their booster shots should voluntarily come forward and get them,” he said.

Sudhakar also said Chief Minister Basavaraj Biommai would soon chair a meeting to discuss next steps. “Some countries including China and Japan are witnessing a sudden spurt in cases. China is witnessing more hospitalisations. Therefore we need to focus on booster dose coverage. Measures have been taken to send samples for genomic sequencing to trace new variants as per the Centre’s guidelines,” he said.

According to the health department, only four Covid patients are in hospital in the state. The positivity rate last week was 0.80 per cent. According to the genome sequencing report, out of the 19,088 variants of concern reported between March 2021 and October 2022, 13,135 were Omicron and its sublineages. Delta and sublineages were the second-most dominant strain, reporting 4,626 variants of concern.



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