Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Monday hinted at stringent action against those returnees from the United Kingdom who were untraceable and had switched off their mobile phones. It could even be police action against them, the minister indicated. "I request the UK returnees to cooperate with us as responsible citizens. You have to get tested. If you don't get tested and switch off your phone, then it's a crime in true sense," Sudhakar told reporters here.
Official sources said around 300 people who returned from the UK, where a new strain of coronavirus has emerged recently, were yet to be traced.
Responding to queries, Sudhakar said he would hold a meeting with Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai after the cabinet meeting because the UK returnees could not be tracked, have switched off their phones and were not responding to requests through media and social media.
To a question whether police cases will be registered, he said, "I am compelled to say that I will discuss with the Home Minister and decide the future course of action." According to him, till now 1,614 people have been tested. Of them, 26 people have tested positive till Sunday evening. Their samples have been sent to the designated lab in NIMHANS. Later, the report will be sent to the ICMR.
The Minister said all the 26 people have been admitted to the designated hospitals and none of them is in home isolation. "They are under the supervision of the government and are getting the best treatment. All of them are in good health and none of them are suffering from any serious ailment. They do have mild symptoms," Sudhakar said. To a question about delay in getting the reports, the minister said test lab reports have to be sent to the ICMR as part of the uniform protocol designed for the entire country. "If different protocols are adopted in different states then it will cause fear among people. To avoid panic, uniform protocol is adopted pan India," he said.
Sudhakar exuded confidence that the reports on 26 people may come by the end of the day. Regarding the opening of schools and PU colleges, Sudhakar said he would discuss it with the education minister.
He stressed that there was no need to panic with the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus. "We have not yet confronted the fear so far. Cases are reducing and the fatalities have come down substantially.
There are many districts which have not seen a single death for the past many days," he added. According to him, there were cases coming up in certain localities of Bengaluru. "Even the UK returnees are located in Bengaluru only. So, it will not affect the schools," the minister explained.
Regarding vaccines, Sudhakar said he was expecting it at the earliest. He said the Prime Minister was going to offer the best gift to the people of the country.
Speaking about the trial results of Covaxin, he said encouraging results were emerging from the third trial as well. "There are no adverse effects on 95 to 96 per cent people. Their immunity on the people has also gone up," Sudhakar said.
Meanwhile, a report from Mangaluru said, the Dakshina Kannada Health department had made RT-PCR test mandatory for all passengers arriving at the Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) and the New Mangalore Port (NMP).
In a release, DK district health and family welfare officer Dr Ramachandra Bairy said a decision to make tests mandatory for all passengers at the MIA and NMP was taken as a precaution against spread of coronavirus variants in the second wave.