Karnataka gears up for possible COVID-19 second wave

Gearing up for a possible second wave of coronavirus in the state, the Karnataka government has approved over Rs 82 crore for the purchase of oxygen generator for various hospitals, testing kits and drugs among others, Health Minister K Sudhakar said on Friday.

The government wanted to equip itself adequately to meet any exigency in the next three months when the state might witness another surge, he said, asking people to take all necessary precautions, including avoiding large congregations.

“We have decided to have oxygen generators in 10 district hospitals, 30 taluk hospitals. We have given administrative approval to buy oxygen generators…. at an estimated cost of 37.72 crore,” Sudhakar told reporters after chairing the COVID-19 Task Force meeting.

The government has also sanctioned Rs 45 crore for purchase of equipment, including ten lakh rapid antigen test kits at a cost of Rs 11.32 crore, and emergency drugs worth Rs 22.50 crore, he said.

“Just because the positivity rate of coronavirus is less, we should not believe that we can escape the second wave. The Technical Advisory Committee (on COVID-19) has recommended enhancing the testing,” he added.

As the second wave might occur from December 20 to January 2 next year, the minister recommended avoiding new year celebrations, marriages, religious events and cultural programmes where a large number of people may congregate.

As of Thursday, the state has reported 8.97 lakh positive cases, including 8.66 lakh discharges and 11,912 deaths.

The Health Minister warned private hospitals against overcharging patients for anti-viral drug remdesivir. While each vial of it was available in government hospitals for Rs 1,800, the private hospitals were charging Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000 per vial, he added.

“We will initiate disciplinary action against the hospitals if we come to know about sale of the injection at an exorbitant price,” the minister said.

He added that the government has also restructured the COVID-19 Task Force by appointing Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol as its chairperson.

The other members of the task force are Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar, Mines and Geology Minister C C Patil, and the Chief Secretary of Karnataka, T M Vijay Bhaskar.

The Task Force held a detailed meeting with the officials from the districts of Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Ballari, Yadgir, Dakshina Kannada, Belagavi, Bidar, Haveri and Udupi, which Sudhakar said were conducting less tests. Under no circumstances, targeted testing should be reduced.

On the plans for delivery of the vaccine once it was available, Sudhakar said a new mobile application has been developed.

The officials have been asked to input details of vaccine administering centres in the application and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) portal.

The first vaccine beneficiaries of the vaccine will be the front-line workers including healthcare personnel in private and government hospitals treating COVID patients.

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