Pandemic slipping into endemic phase in Karnataka | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: With fresh Covid-19 cases hovering in the 500-800 range for the past month and with no sign of a third wave of infections, experts suggest the viral disease may have lost its pandemic characteristics and could be getting closer to the endemic phase in Karnataka.
“Going by the stagnation in terms of new cases and the low test positivity rate (TPR), we can say Covid-19 is reaching the phase of endemicity in Karnataka,” said Dr MK Sudarshan, chairman, state Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). “There will be a new wave only if the novel coronavirus mutates and a new variant emerges. It is therefore important to step up vigilance and surveillance and keep a close watch for mutations, if any. It can be done through more aggressive genomic sequencing.”
The TAC has advised the government to step up current levels of genomic sequencing of test samples to track mutations of the virus. While the test positivity rate is around 0.5%, experts say it could be a pattern as pandemics normally have two or three waves of infections.
Once it becomes endemic, the virus spread will be restricted to local transmission without importation of infection from outside through travel history. Infected people will not suffer a serious form of the disease, and the fatality rate will be low.
Noted epidemiologist Dr T Jacob John said an endemic trend is being witnessed across the country, except in three states — Kerala, Mizoram and Meghalaya, where new cases are still relatively high. “However, the situation in Kerala has improved considerably, with daily cases being stable at around 12,000. So, Covid-19 is becoming endemic there too,” said Dr John.
Extreme caution
Dr V Ravi, virologist and nodal officer for genomic sequencing in Karnataka, said, normally, the process of genomic sequencing should be scaled up to around 10% in the given scenario, especially in districts like Bengaluru Urban and Mysuru where cluster outbreaks are known to occur.
“The situation calls for extreme caution, and vigilance and genomic sequencing needs to be increased. Although the prevailing endemic-like situation gives an impression that the virus is gone, it is still around,” Dr Ravi said.
Karnataka at present has four genomic sequencing laboratories located at Nimhans, National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), IISc and Jawaharlal Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR).
But the state government has now taken steps to add six more labs to the list, with four new labs to be set up in medical colleges located in Belagavi, Kalaburagi, Hassan and Mysuru and another two at district hospitals in Vijayapura and Mangaluru.
Dr KV Trilok Chandra, health commissioner, said, “We have already procured of required equipment and the new genomic labs will be operational by this month end.”
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Sagar Biswas

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