Karnataka: After slight increase in Covid-19 hospitalisation cases, govt releases revised surveillance strategy

With a slight increase in hospital admissions due to Covid-19 In the last 10 days in Karnataka, the Department of Health and Family Welfare has released operational guidelines for a revised surveillance strategy to monitor the situation and identify cases at the earliest.

As part of the government’s surveillance strategy, screening of incoming international travelers for Covid-19 will be pivotal to detect entry of the virus and its variants into the country. The Karnataka government will follow the guidelines issued by the Union health ministry in February that asked state governments to screen 2 per cent of the international passengers by RT-PCR. “Subject all positive specimens to genomic sequencing. Keep passengers who test positive under observation, quarantine and manage as per prevailing guidelines,” the guidelines read.

“The present guidelines provide revised strategy for surveillance with focus on early detection, isolation, and timely management of suspected and confirmed cases; detect and contain outbreaks of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and monitor the trends of existing variants; Monitor long term epidemiologic trends through the established genomic surveillance strategy. The long term vision is to fully integrate Covid-19 surveillance within the existing state Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP) surveillance mechanisms,” the guidelines issued by Health Commissioner Randeep D on Thursday read.

All influenza like illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) surveillance data should be reported through IDSP – Integrated Health Information Portal (IHIP). The healthcare facilities have also been directed to report ILI patients from the OPD and 1 in 20 patients should be tested for Covid 19. They have also been directed to monitor SARI cases in all district hospitals and selected tertiary hospitals.

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The labs testing for Covid-19 will have to upload data on the ICMR portal.

From 11 admissions on June 6, the numbers climbed to 39 on June 16. Of these, 35 have occupied general beds, one has occupied an oxygen/HDU bed and three patients have occupied ICU beds at government hospitals.

On June 14, a 72-year-old man died due to Covid.

According to the health department, the growth rate of Covid-19 cases in the last one week has been at 7.45 per cent and the weekly positivity rate between June 9 to June 15 was at 2.44 per cent. On a positive note, the recovery rate has been 98.91 per cent.

The new guidelines issued on Thursday also focus on community-based surveillance that focuses on the early detection of unusual events in the community, such as large outbreaks, an unusual presentation of cases, mortality, etc. It stated that the district-level rapid response teams (RRT) will assess the unusual events, and, if required, outbreak investigations will be undertaken.

A proportion of international arrivals will be tested and all positives will be sequenced. Positive samples from large clusters/outbreaks in the community and unusual events will be sent for genome sequencing.

In the last meeting of the members of the state Covid 19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) with Health Minister Dr Sudhakar K, a strong emphasis was laid upon monitoring of sewage and wastewater.

In this background the revised guideline stated, “Several studies have demonstrated that increases in SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected in environmental samples several days before detection of Covid-19 through clinical surveillance. The Revised Surveillance Strategy for Covid-19 envisages integrating the multiple systems presently existing for a pan-India sewage/waste water surveillance with the objective of providing an early warning on the impending local surge of Covid-19.”

Randeep also informed that the paediatric sero survey field work has been completed. “Samples of 5,360 children across the state have been collected, to assess community level immunity in the age group of 6 to 14 years. Parents are requested to teach and ensure children take adequate precautions against Covid-19 infection,” he said.

The survey commenced early this month and was aimed at understanding the active Covid-19 infection, waning of antibodies following natural infection, incidence of infection and prevalent strain of SARS-CoV2 among the unvaccinated paediatric age group. The survey will be studied by the experts.

Though the target was of 5,072 samples, the health department managed to collect 5,360 samples for the survey.

On June 15, the state registered 648 new Covid cases of which 615 were in Bengaluru. The active case load in Karnataka is now 3,997 of which 3,843 are in Bengaluru.

In the wake of several students testing positive for Covid-19, Dr Sundar C Ingaleshwar, consultant paediatrician and Pediatric Intensivist with Manipal Hospital cautioned the school authorities. He said, “As the schools have opened for children for this academic year, the risk of spread of respiratory infections, including Covid-19, is always high as other routine viral respiratory infections. School authorities need to be vigilant in providing a safe environment for children through proper sanitisation facilities at the entry levels, making wearing face masks compulsory etc. Early screening and isolation of suspected cases to reduce the spread is a must and making sure that all the working staff and eligible students are vaccinated against Covid-19 will help us fight and reduce the burden of the disease in the community.”

In order to contain the spread of the Covid among children the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Tuesday issued guidelines for the schools. “The BBMP has taken the right step by issuing the guidelines. There is no need to panic and precautions including wearing of masks, temperature checks and drive for vaccinations have been emphasized by the civic body which is welcome,” said Dr Satyanarayana Mysore, consultant- pulmonologist, Manipal Hospital and an official spokesperson recommended by the health department to speak on Covid-19 issues.

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