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K’taka Makes Social Distancing And Masks Must; No Penalty Yet, ET TravelWorld News, ET TravelWorld

With the possibility of a fourth wave of Covid-19, the Karnataka government on Monday made it mandatory for people to maintain social distancing and wear facemasks in crowded and indoor places, but there will be no penalties on violators of the rule for now.

The state will take a call on imposing further curbs after PM Modi‘s meeting with the CMs of all states on Wednesday. These decisions were made at a meeting chaired by CM Basavaraj Bommai to discuss precautionary measures to be taken to combat the fourth wave of Covid. Health minister K Sudhakar, Revenue Minister R Ashoka, TAC chief and members attended the meeting.

“We’ve instructed the authorities to enforce social distancing and ensure people wear masks in crowded places. Though there are no penalties yet, people should consider the issue seriously,” Sudhakar said after the meeting.

He said Covid cases in Japan, Thailand and South Korea are increasing by the day, and the Karnataka government is keeping track of people arriving from these countries at its airports.

Karnataka is conducting about 10,000 daily tests, and only those who are symptomatic are being tested. According to the minister, the number of positive cases has slightly increased in Bengaluru and the positivity rate stands at 1.9 percent.

The minister said the number of people who have taken the third dose is low, and added those eligible for the booster dose should get it on priority.

The minister said Omicron BA.2 sub-lineages are emerging, but it is difficult to say which variant is prevalent until an official report comes from INSACOG lab. “They (lab) have collected samples for genomic sequencing and we may get a report in 2-3 days,” he added.

On the severity of infections, Sudhakar said the state government has gathered information on the situation in states like Delhi, where the rate of hospitalisation or those requiring ICU care is low. In a few countries, the hospitalisation rate is higher in a few places, and this could be due to a low vaccination coverage.

Renowned cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Prasad Shetty said, “There is no need to fear or panic about the fourth wave. The focus should be on the number of hospitalisations, and not positivity rate. Some 1 lakh or 50,000 people turning positive does not mean anything, but the number of people getting hospitalised does.”

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