COVID-19: After 3 deaths, Karnataka govt forms cabinet sub-committee

The Chief Minister instructed officials to ensure that the "mistakes of the past" like -- a shortage of oxygen, beds, ventilators, and medicines -- are not repeated.

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Thursday decided to constitute a cabinet sub-committee for proper coordination with experts to take necessary decisions aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19, including precautions to be taken, and treatment provided.

Karnataka has recorded three COVID-19 deaths in the past week.

Siddaramaiah calls for calm

After chairing a meeting with Ministers, officials, and experts, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah appealed to people not to panic, but to be cautious and take precautionary measures like wearing face masks.

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“A cabinet sub-committee will be constituted. Who will head it and who will be its members will be decided at the cabinet meeting. The cabinet sub-committee will meet frequently, and will also meet the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC consisting of experts). There must be proper coordination between the cabinet sub-committee and the TAC,” Siddaramaiah told reporters.

“Whatever is the advice given by the TAC, should be implemented in toto,” he said.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar, Home Minister G Parameshwara, Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao, Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash Patil, top government officials, and TAC members.

Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar were seen masked up at the meeting.

The Chief Minister noted that COVID cases are increasing and recently three people who tested positive for COVID have died in Karnataka.

“It cannot be said that they died (only) due to COVID because they had other comorbidities or associated diseases like — issues related to kidney, heart, lungs, blood pressure, diabetes, along with COVID-19 infection”, Siddaramaiah said.

In today’s meeting, the inputs from the TAC were taken, he said.

Mistakes of the past should not be repeated: Siddaramaiah

The Chief Minister instructed officials to ensure that the “mistakes of the past” like — a shortage of oxygen, beds, ventilators, and medicines — are not repeated. Along with providing treatment to COVID patients, those with comorbidities should also get medical care.

“I have suggested that, if required, a vaccination drive should be started, for those who have not taken vaccination, as it is an important preventive measure,” he added.

Urging people not to panic or worry, but to remain cautious and follow the precautionary measures, Siddaramaiah noted that the new ‘JN.1’ sub-variant, is a sub-variant of the Omicron variant, which was prevalent in the past.

He said there are at present 92 COVID-positive cases in the State, including 80 from the Bengaluru Urban district. “Out of 92 cases, 72 are under home isolation, while 20 are hospitalised. Out of these 20 hospitalised, 7 are in ICU, not only because of COVID, they have other comorbidities too.”

It has been decided to do 5,000 COVID tests –1,500 Rapid Antigen Test and 3,500 RT-PCR tests — every day, the Chief Minister said. About 1,000 of them will be done in Bengaluru.

Masking compulsory: Siddaramaiah

Suggesting people wear masks in crowded places, he said those above 60 years should compulsorily wear masks, as also persons who come in contact with a large number of people.. “It is only an advisory, such a situation has not come to make it mandatory.”

Siddaramaiah suggested that dedicated wards be set up at private and government hospitals with all the required facilities for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Instructions have been given to health department officials to make arrangements for required oxygen, ventilators, and beds among other essential requirements, he said. Siddaramaiah also asked authorities to have the required amount of vaccination stocks ready, instead of waiting for the Government of India to provide them.

Asked about any guidelines for New Year celebrations, the CM said there is no advisory; only that people need to wear masks as a large number of people gather for celebrations.

He said, that with an increase in testing, there may be a spike in cases being reported.

On cost of testing, treatment

On fixing the cost of testing and treatment at private hospitals, Siddaramaiah said the cabinet sub-committee will decide on it, as and when the situation arises.

“The cabinet sub-committee will also look into purchasing necessary requirements for combating the disease, and ensure that there is no shortage. Necessary funds will be given, and there will be no shortage of funds,” he said, adding that the cabinet sub-committee will decide in the coming days on whether the vaccination will be done free of cost.

On private schools reportedly making masks compulsory for students, the CM said: “It’s good. The government — the cabinet sub-committee too will decide in this regard in the days to come after consulting the TAC.”

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