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Karnataka task force recommends booth-level committees to fight COVID-19

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The task force also released detailed guidelines for home isolation for asymptomatic cases including 17 days ‘home isolation’ for patients below 50 years of age

The Karnataka COVID-19 Task Force has decided to set up booth-level committees across the state including 8,800 in Bengaluru for effective monitoring and surveillance. The task force also released detailed guidelines for home isolation for asymptomatic cases including 17 days ‘home isolation’ for patients below 50 years of age. It also warned of legal action against those health workers for disrespect to the bodies. 

Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar said the local management will be strengthened for effective monitoring and surveillance of COVID-19 cases. “There will be booth-level task force committees throughout the state right from the village to Bengaluru. These task force will act at the ultra-local level. The task force will act as a structural and functional unit of COVID-19 dealing with monitoring, surveillance, checking all the ILI cases, ambulances and hospitals,” he added. 

He also said the committees will comprise one member each from the Health department, police department, municipalities or panchayat, volunteers, valve man. The committee will have five to six members. The principal secretary in the Village Development and Panchayat Raj department LK Ateeq has been appointed as the nodal officer to manage the task force in the rural areas whereas, in the urban areas, the Urban Development secretary, the municipal administration directors and the municipal commissioner will form the local task, force.

“In Bengaluru alone 8,800 teams will be formed, which will be coterminous with the 8,800 booths in the city. They will provide the real-time data. They will be imparted training,” the minister added. Noting that there were about 8,800 electoral booths in Bengaluru city and each booth will have a task force committee, he said a nodal officer has been appointed to oversee this. The state-level task force also came out with a slew of conditions. As far as home isolation is concerned, it would apply for patients who are below 50 years and have no symptoms of any other disease, and their homes should have a toilet and have an attendant. He also said home isolation duration has been increased from 14 to 17 days. 

“People should not get fever in the next three days after completing 14 days, else they will be quarantined for seven days. If they don’t get the fever then they will be freed to perform their personal activities,” Sudhakar said. Those who are above 50 years and have comorbidities, will be treated at the COVID care centres only and they will be under medical supervision and be subjected to regular tests. The state is also making arrangements for telecommunication for those who are asymptomatic but wish to speak to a doctor. It was also decided to have at least two ambulances in each of the 198 wards of Bengaluru. The minister said the additional commissioner of police (traffic) will be the nodal officer to coordinate the movement of ambulances. The task force has also appointed a nodal officer to manage the hospitals based on the availability of beds and ventilators. The officer will provide real-time information about beds. 

“We want to make sure that no one has to run from one hospital to another,” Sudhakar said. On the cremation of the bodies, Sudhakar said guidelines have been issued on how to handle bodies at mortuaries, taking them in the ambulances, human treatment to the deceased while performing the last rites and fumigation of the bed.

“Legal action will be taken against those who treat bodies in an inhuman way,” Sudhakar said. 

The state-level task force has also decided to arrange for test reports within 24 hours. It has also been decided to increase the testing capacity from the existing 15,000 a day to 25,000. In view of the spurt in COVID-19 cases, the task force also recommended antigen tests in crowded areas to check whether there was community spread. To a question on closing down the border, the minister said there is no question of lockdown. “We cannot hide from this disease. It is not a solution. We have to live with it now, yet maintain a distance from it,” he added. 

Sudhakar, who is a doctor himself, said COVID-19 is not as deadly a virus as those he had seen in the past and asked people not to be scared of it.

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