Kerala’s Covid surge raises alarm in Dakshina Kannada

Kerala’s surging Covid cases raise alarm in Dakshina Kannada

During 11 out of the last 26 days in August, Dakshina Kannada has recorded more new Covid-19 cases than Bengaluru Urban

Representative image. Credit: DH file photo

A surge of Covid-19 cases in Kerala, coupled with discoveries of fake RT-PCR negative certificates by travellers coming into Dakshina Kannada (DK) has highlighted the precarious position of the border districts.

As per data from the Department of Health and Family Welfare, during 11 out of the last 26 days in August, Dakshina Kannada has recorded more new Covid-19 cases than Bengaluru Urban, which has been a traditional mainstay for infection in the state. In August, so far, Dakshina Kannada has recorded 8,582 new cases, just behind the 8,890 cases in Bengaluru Urban. No other districts have recorded such numbers.

“The problem is that we have more than 42 border crossings into the district from Kerala. Although we have delegated teams made up of revenue officers, police and other government staff to man the border crossings, just 17 crossings are actively monitored. Complicating matters further is the fact that the district has some 80 entry points from Kerala,” Dr Rajendra K V, IAS, Deputy Commissioner, said.

Read | Karnataka likely to see demand for Covid booster shots

The issue of fake negative RT-PCR certificates has become a thorn in the side of officials. Multiple instances have been recorded. “Earlier we used to send back people with fake certificates, now we have started filing FIRs - and this, we hope, will serve as a deterrent,” Dr Rajendra said.

Four people were arrested at the district’s Talapady border on Thursday when they produced fraudulent RT-PCR certificates. They showed a negative RT-PCR certificate on their mobile phone, but when the QR code of the digital certificate was scanned, it was found to be fake,” the DC explained.

Quarantine being considered

Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (Health), told DH that the issue of fake certificates is prompting Karnataka to consider quarantining interstate travellers, especially those coming to hostels, for a period of five days. “This is still in the thinking stage,” he said.

Even though Kerala is considering a renewed lockdown to curb its high Covid-19 caseload, there is widespread skepticism that it will prevent that state’s outbreak from spilling over into Dakshina Kannada.

Akhtar added that Karnataka has doubled its testing targets in border districts to catch cases and that it is in the process of executing a plan to saturate people living in a buffer zone 10 km from the border with vaccinations. 

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