Surge in border districts: Experts in Karnataka raise the red flag

Police personnel check passengers arriving from Kerala at Talapady, near Mangaluru, on Saturday.  

Raising the red flag over the surge in the neighbouring States of Kerala and Maharashtra, COVID-19 experts in Karnataka have suggested reversal of certain unlock measures including weekend and night curfews in districts where the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) is more than 2%.

Sources said the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is likely to recommend this to the government after observing the spread in the border districts in the next few days.

Although Karnataka’s seven-day average TPR stood at 1.18% prior to July 30, at least 10 districts have a TPR higher than the State average and are in the red zone.

While Dakshina Kannada has the highest TPR at 4.58%, Chikkamagaluru, Udupi, and Kodagu have a TPR of 3.98%, 3.56%, and 3.51% respectively. Besides, Hassan, Shivamogga, Chamarajanagar, Mysuru, Uttar Kannada, and Tumakuru have TPR higher than the State average.

Experts said stricter surveillance and containment measures should be imposed in districts where the TPR is more than 2% or has doubled in the last seven days. “It is important that the State starts imposing stringent restrictions such as weekend and night curfews apart from closure of bars, cinema theatres, and malls at this juncture when the neighbouring States are witnessing a surge,” said V. Ravi, TAC member.

“We have always seen an increase in the number of cases and TPR in our border districts whenever there is a surge in Maharashtra and Kerala. The second wave also began after some clusters were reported in Mangaluru,” said Dr. Ravi, who is also the nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in the State.

Stating that it was too early to say if the third wave was beginning in the State, he said: “It is a matter of concern if there is increase in numbers consistently for over a week. We have to learn from our past experience and initiate quick measures this time to postpone the third wave,” he said.

Inching towards 5%

TAC chairman M.K. Sudarshan said crossing a TPR of 5% is a red alert. “Currently four districts are inching towards 5% TPR. When the TPR starts moving up, hospitalisations and occupancy of oxygen beds increase. Poor COVID Appropriate Behaviour by people is the reason for this. Stringent measures should be initiated to restrict congregation of people and crowding, especially in markets and public places. People should be fined for not wearing masks,” he said.

The State government had eased COVID-19 curbs by restricting curfew hours to 10 p.m.-5 a.m., besides allowing cinemas to operate at 50% capacity from July 18. The ‘unlock 3.0’ guidelines permitting opening of all shops, restaurants, malls, private offices, and religious places till 9 p.m. in all districts, barring Kodagu, were implemented from July 5. Subsequently, restrictions were eased in Kodagu after its TPR fell below 5%.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 2:18:40 PM |

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