Eight districts in Karnataka have been consistently reporting zero COVID-19 cases.
Although districts such as Haveri, Shivamogga, Chickballapur, Bengaluru Rural, Davangere and Kolar have also reported zero cases on some days, eight districts – Bagalkot, Ballari, Bidar, Kalaburagi, Koppal, Raichur, Vijayapura, and Gadag – have seen nil cases in the last one week.
Bengaluru Urban alone has been adding over 60% of the total daily cases reported in the State while 17 districts have been reporting cases in single digits. All the districts have been reporting a Test Positivity Rate (TPR) of less than 1% with Mysuru, Bengaluru Urban, Tumakuru, Kodagu, and Udupi having a TPR that is higher than the State average of 0.32.
While Bagalkot has been consistently recording zero TPR for the last one week, districts such as Belagavi, Chickballapur, Vijayapura, Ramanagaram, Bidar, Gadag, Koppal, Raichur, Haveri, Kalaburagi, and Yadgir have been reporting a TPR of less than 0.5%.
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said the low rate of infection in North Karnataka districts is no reason to celebrate as of now as the rate of vaccination in these districts is low.
“There is a need to increase testing and vaccination in these districts as only vaccination can reduce hospitalisation and disease severity. In case if there is a fresh surge, the unvaccinated population will be the worst affected,” he said.
State Health Commissioner D. Randeep said the department has sought the opinion of the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on whether the testing strategy in these districts should be revised.
“There is some debate that we are not testing enough in these districts. We have asked the TAC if the revised number of 60,000 tests in the State is enough or we need to increase the tests, especially in the districts that have been reporting zero cases,” he said.
The Commissioner said he will have a video-conference with the DCs and District Health Officers on Monday or Tuesday to discuss if the testing strategy has to be revised in these districts.
“With no cases being reported, it may be difficult for targeted testing of contacts and symptomatic people. We may have to intensify random testing, especially among street vendors, auto and bus drivers, students and inmates of hostels. Even after doing this, if there are no cases then we can conclude that these districts have entered the endemic phase,” he added.