Omicron Scare: Clinical Expert Panel Formed For Treatment Protocol
Bengaluru: Gearing up to handle a possible outbreak of Omicron, the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met Health Minister Dr. K. Sudhakar in Bengaluru yesterday and submitted several recommendations including mandatory vaccination, screening of international passengers, compulsory RT-PCR test on arrival at the airports, restriction to cinema halls, malls and others.
All symptomatic/suspected cases of COVID-19 from the airports should be admitted separately in these dedicated facilities,” the TAC stated. It recommended that the State should reconstitute the Clinical Expert Committee to advise the Government regarding treatment protocols.
Talking to reporters after the marathon meeting, Sudhakar said that the Government is all set to face the Omicron challenge as a 10-member Clinical Expert Committee headed by Dr. K. Ravi, Head of the Department of Medicine in Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI), has been formed. The treatment protocol will be given by the experts and the same will be replicated across the State.
This committee was earlier headed by former V-C of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) Dr. S. Sachidananda. “We are considering reintroducing the use of technology such as Quarantine App, telemedicine facilities to monitor patient care,” Sudhakar said.
Dr. Sudhakar mentioned that the TAC has recommended mandatory vaccinations and second doses. Besides this, based on CM’s direction, there will be a mandatory RT-PCR test for all international passengers on arrival and will be subjected to a 7-day quarantine.
“Whether they have symptoms or not, they will have to undergo the test and quarantine. Those who have symptoms and yet not positive will be subjected to an RT-PCR test on 5th day and others who are normal will have to undergo the same on 7th day. Through applications like in the first and second wave, they will be monitored through tele-counselling,” said Dr. Sudhakar.
During quarantine at the hotel, patients will have to pay from their pocket and if tested positive, the patients will be shifted to the hospital and treated accordingly based on the treatment protocol set by experts.
Asserting that there was no need to press the panic button and close schools and colleges now, TAC recommended that classes should be conducted in hybrid mode as far as possible with strict COVID-19 appropriate behaviour protocol. “This recommendation should be revisited when Omicron is reported in the State,” he said.
Also, in view of recent clusters reported in boarding schools, medical, and paramedical colleges, TAC said the State should strictly and mandatorily follow COVID containment norms such as declaring such schools and colleges as “containment zones” and take suitable public health measures there.
He also mentioned that the State is yet to vaccinate 41 lakh people for second vaccine dose and want to cover the unvaccinated public to reach the 75 percent target at the earliest. “The new variant (Omicron) spreads fast. Regarding its impact, we don’t have details at present,” said Dr. Sudhakar.
Restrictions to be back?
Those who have not been vaccinated with a second dose should not be allowed in theatres, malls, libraries and also at other public places, mandatory periodic tests for teachers, staff, and students in institutions are some of the recommendations put forth by the TAC.
The Committee also has recommended no treatment in a private hospital for the public who have failed to get a second dose of vaccination. Vaccination of public at airports, Railway Stations, malls and other public places are other recommendations given by the Committee.
Recommending reintroduction of curbs on public congregations, TAC said a gathering of up to 500 persons can be allowed in events held outdoors and not more than 200 indoors.
These restrictions should be strictly implemented in all social, religious and political events. Marshals and Police should be roped in for strict enforcement, the TAC stated. Besides, enhanced CCTV surveillance with public announcements on correct wearing of face masks should be made in malls, bus stands, and Railway Stations, the TAC pointed out.