Although the second wave of COVID-19 in Karnataka has had a rapid ascent and descent, the number of new cases has remained steady within 1,800 since the beginning of this month.
Public health experts, who said the second wave is not yet over and is dragging on for a longer period, attributed it to the spillover of cases from the border districts. The surge of cases in some neighbouring States, especially in Kerala, is a major factor that is adding to the high number of cases in the border districts.
In fact, over 55% of the new cases on Friday are from the five border districts — Dakshina Kannada (341), Hassan (101), Udupi (76), Mysuru (87) and Kodagu (95). The trend has been similar since the beginning of this month.
Besides, largescale non-compliance to COVID appropriate behaviour and waning antibody levels among those who were infected are also major factors for the daily numbers to stagnate and remain within 1,800 and not drop below that.
M.K. Sudarshan, Chairman of the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), said while increasing vaccination coverage and non-emergence of new variants has been slowing down spread of infection, waning antibodies among those infected and people becoming complacent are a cause of concern. “When the pandemic hit the State in March 2020, people were fearful and compliance of COVID norms was better. It is important that people do not let their guard down,” he said.
TAC member V. Ravi, who is also the nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka, said the surge of cases in Kerala has resulted in an increase in the number of daily cases in the border districts. “Over 55% of the daily cases are from the border districts and the restrictions imposed at the entry points in these districts should not be relaxed unless the Test Positivity rate there falls below 2%,” he said.
Pointing out that during the first wave too daily cases had remained steady for two months before further dropping, Dr. Ravi said, “The descent of the first wave began in October but cases hovered around 1,500 for nearly two months till November after which the numbers further dropped. At a point, we had seen as low as 500 cases daily in January-February.”
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said people should be more watchful now as the festival season is beginning. “Crowding during the festivals and political events that are going on in some parts of the State should not add to the problem,” he said.
Pointing out that as of now, Karnataka has managed to ensure that the cases remain steady despite the surge in Kerala, Dr. Manjunath said: “If the same trend continues for the next three months and if there are no further mutations, the intensity of the third wave will be less severe. Crowding in public, social and political gatherings must be avoided. Minimising crowding will not just prevent transmission but also stop mutations.”