Karnataka CM hints at more precautionary steps amid new COVID-19 variant threat, rules out lockdown
With new clusters emerging in the state and threats of new variant 'Omicron' looming large, he said the government has to manage things at two levels to control the further spread of the pandemic
Bengaluru: Indicating more precautionary measures amid fresh COVID-19 concerns, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday said his government was taking utmost precautions but ruled out the possibility of lockdown in the state.
With new clusters emerging in the state and threats of new variant 'Omicron' looming large, he said the government has to manage things at two levels to control the further spread of the pandemic.
"Instructions have been given to increase the number of tests per day. The Health Minister will be holding a meeting with officials and experts, the outcome of which will be shared with me, following which we may take certain decisions keeping in view the current circumstances," Bommai said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said lockdown or any such measures that are being speculated, are not before the government. "There is no question of it, as of now."
"Normal public life should continue, but COVID norms should be followed at places where people gather, also organizations of such gatherings should be responsible. We are taking utmost precautions, and wherever clusters have emerged, we will keep extra vigil there," he added.
Intensifying screening of international passengers at airports, heightened border checks, asking educational institutions to postpone their public events, were among the measures announced by the government on Saturday amid fresh COVID concerns. It had also indicated that based on the number of cases and scenarios in the coming days, it may take certain stringent measures.
Noting that the government is observing the effects of the new variant Omicron at the international, national, and state level, the Chief Minister said the administration will also have to manage the existing delta variant's new clusters that are emerging.
"The state government has to manage things at two levels. We are doing all that we can at our levels like scientific observation and management to control the new strain, and have taken the help of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) for further analysis," he said
"We are extra vigilant about the people who have traveled from the foreign countries by tracking, tracing and testing them and their contacts. We have already issued guidelines regarding clusters, stating that- everyone there should be tested, and a repeat test should follow after seven days, also their contacts... we are conducting a special drive there," he added.
There are concerns as the sample of one of the two persons who arrived in Bengaluru recently from South Africa, is said to be different from the existing Delta variant; also schools and colleges at several places like Dharwad, Anekal, Sarjapura and Mysuru, turning into COVID clusters.
Meanwhile, Health Minister K Sudhakar ahead of a meeting with officials and experts, said discussions will be on measures to be taken regarding administering second dose of COVID vaccine to everyone, and enhancing vigil at state's borders.
"With the Technical Advisory Committee (on COVID) we will discuss quarantine norms, especially those travelling from foreign countries; also our preparedness to fight the new variant, at hospitals and ICUs," he said, the meeting will also gather information about the intensity of the new variant.
Observing that the government was waiting for WHO's report on the new variant, the Minister in response to a question on restricting activities and celebrations such as Christmas, New Year and upcoming assembly session said the report is likely by December 1 or 2, based on which government may take decisions.
"As of now there are no restrictions on activities and functioning of institutions. There are no such plans to restrict for now," he added.
To another query on administering booster dose to frontline workers, he said the Centre will have to take a decision on this.
The active COVID-19 cases rose to 8,21,446, the highest in 208 days, while the toll climbed to 4,84,213 with 277 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated.
Coronavirus: Weekly case positivity in 300 districts over 5%; don't treat Omicron as common cold, says Centre
Covid cases have been rising globally with 10 January recording the highest ever single-day rise of 31.59 lakh cases worldwide
The total tally of COVID-19 cases is now at 3,65,82,129 which includes 5,753 cases of the Omicron variant