India / 2nd wave of COVID-19 in K'taka expected during Jan-Feb: TAC

Zoom News : Dec 02, 2020, 05:57 PM
Bengaluru: The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for Covid-19 in Karnataka has said the second wave of the pandemic is expected in early 2021 and has made a slew of recommendations including banning public celebrations ahead of the new year in a bid to avert a crisis.

It has also recommended clamping night curfew during that period, but the government said that it was yet to take a call on the matter. The TAC has said the second wave of the pandemic was expected in January-February next year.

It has asked to keep ready by the first week of January, clinical facilities at October level (when daily cases were about 10,000 per day) in terms of beds, ICUs, ventilators, and so on, both in government and private hospitals or this could be ramped up at a short notice of 2-3 days maximum. It has also recommended a ban on new year public celebrations from December 26 to January 1 and impose a night curfew (8 pm to 5 am) during this period.

The TAC, based on the deliberations at its 53rd meeting held on November 24, has given an advisory on recognition and containment measures for the second wave of COVID-19 in Karnataka. According to TAC, early recognition of the second wave of Covid-19 in the state can be done by closely monitoring the 7-day average growth rate and reproduction number (R0) at district and state levels.

It said that an epidemic intelligence team shall be supporting the state war room for early recognition of the second wave and alert the Additional Chief Secretary and Commissioner of the Health and Family Welfare department. Speaking to reporters here, Health Minister Sudhakar said a meeting will be held at the government level regarding the TAC recommendations.

"Our positivity rate is less than 1.2 per cent. The report of the TAC states that there may be a second wave. A meeting regarding this will be held in a couple of days. Based on the outcome of the meet, discussions will be held with the Chief Minister and the final decisions will be taken," he said.

To a query on the night curfew, he said no decision has been taken. A meeting is yet to take place to discuss the recommendations. There has been a second wave of Covid-19 in the USA, Europe, Australia, and other countries.

Recently, there has been a surge in cases in Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, and other states, so it is now considered important for Karnataka to prepare for a possible second wave of Covid-19. According to experts, the second wave is anticipated usually three to four months after the first spike or wave i.e., January- February 2021. This is factoring in winter, unlocking progress, weak enforcements, population movements, etc.

Noting that a minimum of 1.25 lakh tests per day should continue till the end of February 2021, of which one lakh shall be RT-PCR ( 1:5 pooled in lab as per state protocol), the TAC advisory recommends for fortnightly testing of all teachers, pupils, and staff in educational institutions, Anganwadi staff, and others by RT-PCR.

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On the need for ramping up clinical facilities, it has suggested exploring Covid Care Centres (CCCs) to be run on a PPP model with reputed NGOs for better facilities, services, and care. After carefully assessing the Covid-19 situation in the last week of December, graded opening of schools from January may be considered, i.e. classes 12 & 10 to initially from January and classes 11 and 9 to follow later on.

TAC has also recommended restriction of mass gatherings like fairs and festivals, religious congregations, cultural events, etc., and to strictly restrict super spreader events during December and January (winter months) like permitting events only in open areas like marriages, etc with a cap of 100 people.

It could be 200 for political and public events, up to 50 in death ceremonies and 20 in funerals. Suggesting to enforce usage of facemasks, it said more marshals/police can fine violators in busy areas like markets, bus stops, commercial areas, buses, and traffic junctions.

TAC also suggested considering introducing tough action like simple imprisonment of a few hours for mask violators as being done in Madhya Pradesh.