Restrict public facilities for unvaccinated: TAC

For testing: A health worker collects swab samples at KSRTC’s Kempe Gowda bus stand in Bengaluru on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

With the State struggling to cover the last mile of COVID-19 vaccination drive, the State’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended restricting access to public amenities and government benefits, such as ration and pension, for the unvaccinated.

Sources in the TAC said this would ensure more people come forward to get vaccinated. Over 41 lakh people are due for the second dose in the State.

At its meeting with Minister for Health and Medical Education K. Sudhakar on Tuesday, the TAC said only fully vaccinated adults should be allowed to use public facilities such as public transport, hotels, shopping complexes and malls, lodges, cinemas and auditoria, swimming pools, gardens and parks, libraries, factories and exhibitions.

Also, only fully vaccinated people should be allowed to draw benefits from the Government such as rations through the Public Distribution System, electricity, water supply, domestic gas cylinder and petrol/diesel at bunks. Besides, salaries to Government employees, pension and awarding of contracts should also be done only for those fully vaccinated, the TAC report stated.

Earlier backlash

However, top officials in the State Health Department said recommedations on Government benefits may not be feasible. It can be recalled that Chamarajnnagar Deputy Commissioner M. Ravi’s announcement in September on “no vaccination, no ration, no pension” had been withdrawn after a backlash.

“However, restricting access to public amenities is doable. Some countries have adopted a similar measure. The Government is likely to issue an order on this shortly,” said the official.

Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar, who did not mention the recommendation on restricting Government benefits during his interaction with mediapersons, said the TAC had recommended that the Government should stop bearing the treatment expenses of unvaccinated COVID- infected persons in private hospitals. “We have conveyed this to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. He will take a call on this after discussing it in the State cabinet,” the Minister said.

All travellers to be tested

Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said all international travellers who arrive in Karnataka, around 2,500 every day, would have to mandatorily undergo the RT-PCR test.

“We are already carrying out mandatory RT-PCR test for travellers from the 12 ‘at risk’ countries where the new variant has been detected. However, the Chief Minister has directed that travellers landing from any country should be tested,” he said.

“Those who test negative will be home quarantined for seven days. All those who are symptomatic but test negative will be tested at home on the fifth day. And asymptomatic people will be tested on the 7th day. If positive, they will be immediately hospitalized. And they will be treated separately,” the Minister said.

Drug procurement

Meanwhile, in a videoconference with DHOs and DCs of all districts later in the evening, the Minister discussed preparations of health care services including availability of beds, oxygen beds, deployment of doctors and personnel and supply of medicine.

Sources said as the tendering process for drug procurement in hospitals by the Karnataka State Medical Supplies Corporation Limited has been delayed, funds will now be released through the National Health Mission for local procurement by hospitals. Besides, the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust is also expediting the reimbursement of treatment costs of patients treated under Ayushman Bharat Arogya Karnataka in various hospitals, sources added.

Increase in daily vaccinations

There has been a rise in the number of people turning up at vaccination centres to get inoculated. Health officials said the increase has been noticed in the last four to five days following Omicron scare.

“Although there are reports that this new variant evades vaccine-induced immunity too, it is quite evident that vaccination will still reduce disease severity and hospitalisation. We are seeing a rise in the number of people coming for vaccination and this is a good indication,” said Arundathi Chandrashekar, State Mission Director, National Health Mission.

“Till November 25, we were seeing an overall 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh vaccinations daily. However, this number has shot up to over 4.5 lakh to 5.5 lakh in the last five days. Hoping more people will turn up, we have fixed a target of inoculating 30 lakh people during this week’s Wednesday Lasika Utsava on December 1,” she said.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 5:14:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/restrict-public-facilities-for-unvaccinated-tac/article37781157.ece

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