Seeking to allay apprehensions, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday, November 29, made it clear that there was no proposal to impose lockdown in the state. "We have instructed for strict precautions at schools and colleges, but not to close them. There is no proposal to impose a lockdown," he said. Addressing mediapersons in Davanagere, he urged the people not to panic about Omicron, the new strain of the COVID-19, and strictly follow safety guidelines.
"Those arriving from the Omicron prevalent countries are being screened at the airports. They are being allowed into the cities only if found negative on testing. COVID-19 negative reports have been made mandatory for students from Kerala who are studying in Karnataka and a second test is being done for them on the seventh day of the first negative report," Bommai said. The state government is in constant consultation with experts and the Union government, and precautions are being taken according to their guidelines, he added.
On a question about a person who arrived from South Africa found to be having different symptoms, Bommai said, "The test report of the person has been sent for genome sequencing. Exact variant of the virus would be known from the genome sequencing report."
He also said that the state government is awaiting the instructions from the Union government on administering booster doses of the vaccine. "Our concern is that it is already over six months since the health workers received two doses of the vaccine. We will act according to directions from the Union government," Bommai said.
Bommai spoke to reporters hours after Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said that a sample of one of two recent South Africa returnees appeared "different from the Delta variant."
"There is a 63-year-old man whose name I should not disclose. His report is a bit different. It appears different from the delta variant. We will discuss with the Indian Council of Medical Research officials," the minister said. However, he also ruled out that a lockdown would be imposed in the state.
The B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant, first detected in South Africa last week, has been designated by the World Health Organisation as a Variant of Concern (VOC).
With IANS and PTI inputs