“We need not be paranoid about a second wave,” the minister told ET in an interview, sounding confident about the government’s preparedness to deal with another round of outbreak. Even if such a wave were to erupt, its severity will be less, he said, citing studies and the global experience.
“We know the exact treatment protocol, and have increased testing capacity to do more than two lakh tests a day,” said Sudhakar, who got a promotion at the peak of the pandemic with the health portfolio, too, assigned to him. “Our technical advisory committee has predicted a second wave in January-February.”
Private hospitals, which have been freed of a bed-quota system, however, have offered to support if infection numbers were to spike suddenly, and beds in government hospitals are not sufficient, Sudhakar said.
He scotched speculations of a night curfew to rid Karnataka of the infection swiftly. “We shouldn’t be talking about such restrictions when the Covid curve is flattening.” Any new restriction, the minister said, would depend on how the infection will play out in the coming weeks.
“The pandemic is under control. From almost 19% positivity rate a couple of months back, it has dropped to less than 1.2%. The testing numbers during this period, however, have gone up to as much as 1.2 lakh a day,” Sudhakar said. “Even the case fatality ratio ( the number of deaths per 100 infected persons) has declined.”
TECH AT WORK
The health department, the minister said, has developed a robust database after conducting a statewide survey, capturing the age and health profile of family members. “We have the data of persons with comorbidity, frontline workers, senior citizens, vulnerable groups, etc. We will make use of the technology in storing, distributing and finally vaccinating people.”
Karnataka is working on a comprehensive digital health registry with the health status of every citizen. The minister acknowledged it is a gargantuan task as they have to capture details of six crore plus people, but they have embarked on it nevertheless, and update it every year. “We will start the pilot in Chikkaballapura. This will help the government how to deploy funds based on the health profile of a certain region. This data can be a useful reference material for other departments as well.”
The minister added: “It will be like a health census of the state. I want to finish it in 1-1.5 years. We are engaging external consultants who have handled similar projects in other countries.”
On reopening of schools for in-person learning, Sudhakar said they are in favour of a graded reopening. “Higher education classes have started, and the government will slowly open junior classes, going by the data on infection among students.”