K'taka to seek ban on flyers from Omicron-hit countries

Karnataka to seek ban on flyers from countries hit by Covid-19 Omicron variant: CM Bommai

Bommai said that people arriving from Omicron-hit countries will be placed in quarantine until they test negative for Covid-19

CM Basavaraj Bommai. Credit: PTI File Photo

The Karnataka government has requested the Centre to impose a travel ban on passengers coming from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana to contain a potential surge in the number of Covid-19 Omicron cases, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said Sunday.

"A new strain of the Covid-19 has appeared abroad, which is mainly seen in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana. European nations have imposed restrictions and the WHO has also raised the alarm against this new variant by calling it a matter of concern," Bommai told reporters.

"We have also requested the Union government to ban travellers from the three countries (South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana)," he said.

Also Read — Covid test must to enter Karnataka from Maharashtra, Kerala

Stating that there were no details available about the impact of the new variant, Bommai pointed out that he has learnt that it is a super spreader.

"India is on the alert. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had convened a meeting and given a slew of directions. Keeping that in mind, we too had convened a meeting on Saturday in the state. So far, we have not come across the new strain in the state," he said.

Bommai said he has ordered restrictions at the airport for people coming from countries where the Omicron variant has been detected.

"The travellers will be let go only if they test negative for Covid-19; else, they will be sent to a containment zone. Earlier, there was a system that the travellers were allowed to go after collecting samples and then they were quarantined after testing positive," Bommai said.

Underlining that there was a high prevalence of Covid-19 among people coming from Kerala, Bommai said that he has ordered precautionary measures in Dakshina Kannada, Madikeri, Chamarajanagar and Mysuru districts, which border Kerala, and that these measures will be in effect round-the-clock.

"People coming from Kerala will be let in people only after they test negative for Covid-19. They should have taken two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. This way, we have given directions for round-the-clock monitoring in these districts," Bommai said.

He also said that people who came from Kerala in the last fortnight will have to undergo tests again.

Also Read — Amid new Covid clusters, Karnataka moves to intensify border vigil, asks schools to defer events

Speaking about the rising cases in some clusters in Dharwad, Bengaluru and Mysuru, he said precautionary measures have been taken.  "We are conducting tests in SDM Medical College. We are conducting tests on doctors, nurses, patients and others. We have stopped the entry of outpatients," Bommai said, referring to the outbreak of Covid-19 among students and staff of SDM Medical College in Dharwad.

Sources in the Health department said on Sunday said that 25 more Covid-infected people were detected in the college, and that so far, 306 people of the 3,973 who underwent tests have tested positive for Covid-19. The infected are said to be asymptomatic or exhibiting mild symptoms.

Bommai said that his government will also seek permission for giving booster doses to healthcare workers. Along with it, the government will make sure that people working in malls, public places and government offices have taken two shots of Covid-19 vaccines, Bommai said, adding the state also plans to arrange vaccination camps in malls and government hospitals.

Also Read — Covid-19 cluster: Educational institutes near Dharwad college shut

To a query on restrictions on New Year celebrations, Bommai said no decision has been taken yet. However, the government will wait for a week to take a stand on the issue after watching the Covid-19 related developments, he said.

Asked if restrictions have been directed for the MLC election campaigns, Bommai said gatherings will not be huge and that he has directed for Covid-appropriate measures to be followed, including social distancing and mask discipline.

Regarding Covid-19 vaccine stocks, Bommai said the state has 80 lakh doses. According to him, Karnataka's first dose coverage is 91 per cent, which is reaching saturation. "Now, we are focusing on the second dose. We are aiming to achieve 70 per cent vaccination by December-end. Presently, we have reached 58 per cent," he said. 

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