Covid positivity on the rise; Health Minister Sudhakar urges people to get booster shot

Dr B Thomas (Special correspondent)

Only 17% of people have taken booster dose: Health Minister.

Karnataka sees uptick in Vector Borne diseases due to heavy rains,floods.

Legal action will be taken against hospitals that refuse to treat COVID-19 patients.

Not taking the booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine even when it has been made available free for everyone amounts negligence and we as responsible citizens must avail booster shot to enhance immunity”said Katnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Thursday,August 11 at a press conference he addressed after a meeting with the COVID-19 technical advisory committee.

“Youth should take the responsibility of getting their family vaccinated.Make sure you and your family get the booster dose,he added.

Minister Sudhakar informed media persons that the entire nation is seeing an uptick in the COVID-19 positivity rate and Delhi currently has a positivity rate of over 18%.

The average positivity rate of Karnataka is 7.2% at the moment.However,the positivity rate is higher than the state average of 7.2% in cities like Bengaluru,Shivamogga,Bagalkot,Bellary.Dharwad currently has the highest positivity rate,said Minister Sudhakar.

Karnataka is currently conducting 30,000 COVID-19 tests each day and as per the guidelines of the Union government,only those who are symptomatic are being tested.

Even in case of primary contacts,only those who are symptomatic are being tested,said Minister Sudhakar.

Expressing his disappointment, Minister Sudhakar said that despite 100% completion of the initial two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, only 17% of people have taken the booster dose.

Responding to a reporter who questioned him about the reason for the low coverage Minister Sudhakar said that some initially blamed the government for making the booster dose paid.

Minister Further stated that the reason for low coverage was that many had become complacent and overconfident that nothing would happen to them as they had survived the previous COVID-19 waves.

Experts across the world have said that the immunity decreases or wanes after 6-7 months of taking the vaccine and the booster dose would be required to boost immunity again.

The booster dose helps reduce hospitalizations and deaths,said Minister Sudhakar.

He further highlighted the need for those above the age of 60 and those with comorbidities to take the booster dose stating that most COVID-19 deaths in recent days has been in those who had other comorbidities that worsened the effects of COVID-19.

Minister Sudhakar informed media personnel that Corbevax has been given approval by the Union government for use as the booster dose and it would be inaugurated on Friday.

He further stated that Corbevax could be taken as the booster dose irrespective of whether an individual had taken Covaxin or Covishield for their first and second doses.

Minister Sudhakar also gave an advisory for COVID-19 patients above the age of 60 and with comorbidities to go to a hospital or a doctor and seek treatment.He reiterated that it was an advisory and not a mandatory thing that has to be done.

Speaking about recent complaints of private hospitals refusing treatment for COVID-19 patients,Minister Sudhakar said,No hospital can deny treatment for a COVID-19 patient with an excuse that they dont treat COVID-19.

Every hospital must treat COVID-19 patients in isolation wards. I have received many complaints that many hospitals denied treatment like this.

This is not just inhumane but also illegal. If any such complaints are received, strict action will be taken under the KPME and Epidemic act.”

Speaking about Monkeypox,Minister Sudhakar stated that the TAC took a comprehensive view of the whole situation.

Till now, a total of 9 cases,5 in Kerala and 4 in Delhi have been detected.As of now,we haven’t seen even a single case in Karnataka,however, surveillance and necessary precautions are being undertaken at the border districts.Hospitals have been prepped with all the necessities,he said.

Minister Sudhakar also stated that the TAC discussed other vector borne diseases such as Dengue, Malaria, H1N1 and Chikungunya and also said that there is an uptick in the number of such cases except malaria due to heavy rains and floods that Karnataka recently witnessed.

According to Minister Sudhakar,Malaria cases had decreased from 419 in 2021 to 116 in 2022. However Dengue had increased from 1266 in 2021 to 4405 in 2022.

Similarly Chikungunya increased from 454 to 978, H1N1 saw a massive increase from 3 to 345. Minister Sudhakar said that the increase in dengue could probably be also because of increased testing which was just 9000 in 2021 and 36,000 in 2022.

Minister Sudhakar stated that most cases were detected in the BBMP area within Bengaluru Urban, Mysuru,Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Hassan.

Minister Sudhakar informed media personnel that the COVID-19 TAC would be further expanded in the future to look at Malaria,Dengue and public health as a whole in Karnataka.He said that entomologists and microbiologists will also be included in the TAC for this.