Health Department to request deferring of gram panchayat polls in Karnataka


Fearing an explosion of COVID-19 cases in the State if the gram panchayat elections are held in the winter months, the Health Department is set to request that the polls be put off at least till the end of February.

This follows a recommendation from members of the State’s COVID-19 expert committee and technical advisory committee, said Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar on Thursday.

Addressing presspersons after a meeting with experts on COVID-19 management following the festivals/elections and during winter, the Minister said, “As gram panchayat elections are fought at the grassroots level, the candidates visit every house in their village. One of our experts said it could lead to door delivery of the virus.”

He said the experts have recommended that the government make every effort to get the polls put off at least till February-end and that the department request to the authorities concerned.

Cracker ban decision

The Minister also said the committee had deliberated on the pros and cons of banning firecrackers during Deepavali and had recommended a ban. “As the smoke can badly impact the health of those who have already been infected by COVID-19 and even those who have not, we will place the committee’s report before the Chief Minister and take a decision within a day or two,” he said. “We do not want to hurt the religious sentiments of anyone. But it is in our own interests if the festival is celebrated in a simple manner.”

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As people are usually prone to catching infections during winter, it is advisable that they follow extreme precautions even though COVID-19 cases are declining in the State. “People should not ignore any non-COVID-19 health issue and should seek medical advice by visiting hospitals,” he said.

Post-COVID-19 rehab

With the percentage of people developing post-COVID-19 complications on the rise, the government will soon start post-COVID-19 rehabilitation centres at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, Victoria, Bowring and Lady Curzon, and K.C. General hospitals in the first phase. “We will start such centres in every district hospital in the second phase. Our team has prepared a detailed report on what facilities these centres should have. We will also integrate AYUSH treatment in these centres,” the Minister said.

While some private hospitals have already started such centres, the government will direct all hospitals with 100 beds and more to have post-COVID-19 rehab centres, he said.

“With at least 5% of the recovered COVID-19 patients getting reinfected, people should be careful and should not let their guard down after recovery. I have asked our experts to conduct a comprehensive death audit of all COVID-19 fatalities in the State and to also study the reinfection cases in detail. They will submit a report soon,” Mr. Sudhakar said.



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Sagar Biswas

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