The Karnataka government has requested the Centre to impose a travel ban on passengers coming from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana in view of the detection of the new variant of COVID-19 -'Omicron', Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Sunday.
"A new strain of the COVID-19 has appeared abroad, which is mainly seen in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana. European nations have imposed restrictions and the WHO has also raised an alarm against this new variant by calling it a matter of concern," Bommai told reporters here.
"We have also requested the Union government to ban travellers from the three countries (South Africa, Hongkong and Botswana)," he added.
Stating that there were no details available about the impact of the new variant, Bommai pointed out that he has learnt that it is a super spreader and hence, India is on the alert.
"India is on the alert. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had convened a meeting and given a slew of directions. Keeping that in mind, we too had convened a meeting on Saturday in the state. So far we have not come across the new strain in the state," the Chief Minister said.
Bommai said he has ordered restrictions at the airport for people coming from countries, which are in contact with people from nations where the new Omicron variant has been detected.
"The travellers will be let go only if they test negative for the COVID-19 or else they will be sent to the containment zone. Earlier, there was a system that the travellers were allowed to go after collecting samples and then they were quarantined after testing positive," Bommai said.
Underlining that there was high prevalence of COVID among people coming from Kerala, the Chief Minister said he has ordered precautionary measures in Dakshina Kannada, Madikeri, Chamarajanagar and Mysuru districts bordering Kerala, which will be in effect round-the-clock.
"People coming from Kerala will be let in people only after they test negative for COVID-19. They should have taken two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. This way we have given direction for round-the-clock monitoring in these districts," the Chief Minister explained.
He also said people who came from Kerala in the last 14 days will have to undergo tests again.
Speaking about the rising cases in some clusters in Dharwad, Bengaluru and Mysuru, he said precautionary measures have been taken.
"We are conducting tests in SDM Medical College. We are conducting tests on doctors, nurses, patients and others. We have stopped the entry of outpatients," Bommai said, referring to the outbreak of COVID among students and staff of SDM Medical College in Dharwad.
Sources in the Health department said on Sunday said that 25 more COVID infected people were detected. With this, 306 people have found COVID infected out of 3,973 people who underwent tests. The infected are said to be asymptomatic or having mild symptoms.
Stating that the government is keeping a close watch on the developments, Bommai said not only more tests are going on but also treatment to COVID infected people is given.
The Chief Minister also said that his government will seek permission for giving booster doses to the health workers.
Along with it, the government will make sure that people working in malls, public places and government offices took double doses of COVID-19, Bommai said, adding the state also plans to arrange vaccination camps in malls and government hospitals.
To a query on restrictions on new year celebrations, Bommai said no decision has been taken regarding it.
However, the government will wait for a week to take a stand on the issue after watching the COVID-19 related developments, he added.
Asked about restrictions during the MLC election campaign, the Chief Minister said though the gathering will not be huge, he has given directions to abide by COVID appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks and social distancing.
Regarding COVID-19 vaccine stock, Bommai said the state has 80 lakh vaccines.
According to him, Karnataka's first dose coverage is 91 per cent, which is reaching saturation.
"Now we are focusing on second dose. We are aiming to achieve 70 per cent vaccination by December-end. Presently we have reached 58 per cent," he added.