TAC favours stricter restrictions than for second wave

A file photo of a health worker collecting swab samples for COVID testing at KSR Railway Station, Bengaluru.

A file photo of a health worker collecting swab samples for COVID testing at KSR Railway Station, Bengaluru.

Worried over the high transmissibility of Omicron, the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee has advised the Government to impose stricter curbs if the weekly test positivity rate (WTPR) goes above 2% as an early measure of mitigation.

While recommending weekend and night curfews if the WTPR is between 1% and less than 2%, the TAC has said lockdown should be considered if the WTPR goes above 3%. If it’s between 2% and 3%, educational institutions will have to switch to remote learning, and offices to work from home. The committee had earlier fixed the threshold for lockdown as 5%.

As of Dec. 30, the weekly TPR is 0.46%.

At its 144th meeting held on Wednesday, the TAC noted that the situation is worrisome as there is a spurt in the cases in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, and Bengaluru. “From the previous experience of two waves in Karnataka, the case surge in Bengaluru/Karnataka was preceded by the surge in Mumbai/Maharashtra,” stated the TAC report.

“Hence, after detailed deliberations TAC makes the following recommendations as an early measure of mitigation: As Omicron is known to be more contagious, measures stricter than the second wave that was largely driven by Delta are contemplated. Districts should be classified into three colour codes based on the WTPR - Yellow if WTPR is less than 1%; Orange if WTPR is 1% to less than 2% and Red if WTPR is 2% and above, for imposing curbs in public activities,” the report said.

Examining the third wave action plan put in place by the Delhi government, the TAC has formulated a table under the three colour codes. “In districts that come under the orange zone (where WTPR is between 1% and < 2%) there is a need to ensure cinemas and auditoria, schools and colleges, pubs and bars, restaurants, offices and factories, recreational clubs, public transport including Metro trains and salons/barber shops function with 50% capacity. In this scenario, malls and shopping complexes should function only between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m.,” according to the table in the report.

In a scenario when the WTPR crosses 2% and districts fall into the red zone, schools and colleges should start online classes. “While offices and factories should allow work from home facility for their employees, cinemas and auditoria and public transport should be stopped. Pubs, bars and restaurants should be open only for take away. In this scenario, salons, barber shops, gyms and fitness centres, swimming pools, places of worship and parks should be closed,” according to the table.

“In a scenario, when the WTPR crosses 3%, a total lockdown is recommended. These measures are required to be initiated early because as a measure of precaution. Although Omicron infection is said to be milder, we should try and cut transmission at an early stage. This will help reduce the burden on health facilities and save lives,” a TAC member said.

He said the committee referred to IIT- Kanpur’s “Sutra model” that is backed by the Government of India. This model had predicted that the third wave of COVID-19 is expected in India in January - February, 2022. Based on this, the TAC has already given an advisory to the State Government and following that the government has imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. night curfew in the State from December 28 to January 7, 2022.

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Printable version | May 26, 2022 7:06:04 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/tac-favours-stricter-restrictions-than-for-second-wave/article38082910.ece