Karnataka expert committee recommends reopening of schools

Members fear any further delay in school would make children vulnerable to malnutrition, child labour, child marriage, child trafficking, begging

The 13-member expert committee headed by cardiologist Devi Prasad Shetty set up by the Karnataka government for prevention and management of the third wave of COVID-19 submitted its interim report to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Tuesday.

In its 92-page report, the committee recommended reopening of schools and colleges in a phased manner.

“It is recommended to open schools physically to optimise learning, physical health, mental health and nutritional aspects of children. Any further delay in school reopening may push children into malnutrition, child labour, child marriage, child trafficking, begging, making their condition worse,” the report stated.

However, the Chief Minister said that the government is contemplating opening degree and professional colleges in the first phase after teachers and students are vaccinated.

He told reporters that the committee has recommended upgrading paediatric ICUs and wards.

Estimating that 3.4 lakh children are likely to be hit during the third wave of COVID-19, the report recommends augmentation of neonatal ICU/SNCU, paediatric ward beds, PICU/HDU beds in taluk hospitals, district hospitals and medical colleges.

The committee has recommended recruiting additional manpower, including doctors, nurses and paramedic staff.


“Upgrading the existing SNCU/NICU, PICU, converting existing HDU to PICU, upgrading existing paediatric wards as HDU with piped central oxygen and suction facility so that they can be converted at short notice to PICU in case of a surge in paediatric cases,” the report said.

“Setting up of exclusive children’s hospital with 250 beds with provision for 20-bed PICU/HDU/NICU in facilities like Indira Gandhi Institute Of Child Health, and in the backward districts like Chamrajanagar, Yadgir, Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Chitradurga, Koppal and Haveri in the campus of district hospital/medical college,” states the report.

At district-level hospitals, additional provision of 10-25 bed (Level Three) PICU and 25-50 bed HDU, 10-20 bed NICU should be made. Remaining paediatric beds should to have central oxygen and suction facility. At taluk level hospitals, the report has said 10-20 bed Level Two PICU with additional 20-50 bed HDU, remaining beds with oxygen facility should be arranged.

Besides, 10-20% of existing MICU/ward beds should be earmarked for children in case of surge of paediatric cases.

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Sagar Biswas

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