Special vigilance over college hostelites from Maharashtra
With the bordering state seeing a doubling of Covid-positive cases in recent days, Karnataka Health Department is taking no chances
With the spectre of a second Covid-19 surge looming over Karnataka, especially in the light of such cases rapidly increasing in the states of Maharashtra and Kerala, both bordering Karnataka, the Health Department, as per the recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee, has issued new guidelines on Saturday, February 20, with special reference to people entering from Maharashtra.
According to reports, Mumbai has seen a near-doubling of number of Covid-positive cases, from around 350 per day to 645 per day, within a week. Amravati, Nagpur, Pune and other cities in Maharashtra are also witnessing a spike in cases. Over 6,000 new cases have been detected in Maharashtra in the past 24 hours, almost doubling in a week and indicating a renewed community spread and a possible second wave in that state.
In this context, and based on the recent SOP for travellers from Kerala, the following recommendations have been made for arrivals from Maharashtra:
- If there is a cluster of 5 or more cases in hostels or educational institutions, such places shall be declared containment zones. After seven days of the notification, RT-PCR tests should be carried out again.
- Strict enforcement of precautions like wearing of face masks, physical distancing, use of hand sanitizers, and monitoring for symptomatic in hostels and educational institutions. Heads of institutions shall be responsible for any lapses in this regard.
- A negative RT-PCR certificate that is not older than 72 hours shall be compulsory for those arriving by flights/buses/trains/personal transport.
a) The negative RT-PCR report shall be verified at the time of boarding by airline staff.
b) For those travelling by bus, tickets shall be issued on production of a negative RT-PCR report, including by those who have booked tickets online.
c) In trains, TTEs shall check the negative RT-PCR test report.
d) A random check of the test reports of persons arriving at toll gates or points of entry shall be made for those coming by personal transport.
- All those arriving from Maharashtra and checking into hotels, resorts, hostels, home stays, dormitories, etc. shall compulsorily produce a negative RT-PCR certificate that is not older than 72 hours. Owners of the above-mentioned places should ensure that the occupants produce negative RT-PCR certificates.
- Positive samples (CT cycle less than 20) shall be sent to NIMHANS for genomic sequencing.
No visitors to hostels
- Hostels and colleges should not allow visitors without express permission from the Covid nodal officers. A list of students travelling to and from Maharashtra from the hostel/college should be maintained by a competent authority. The students shall compulsorily produce RT-PCR negative reports not older than 72 hours each time they return from Maharashtra and till the situation improves.
- Students should be in separate rooms to maintain adequate physical distance and avoid crowding. Any potential for super-spreading (such as crowding in dining areas, halls, reading rooms, indoor playing areas, gymnasiums, etc.) should be prevented. Meal timings should be staggered to ensure that there is no crowding in the dining areas.
a) An exemption is given only to those who have a valid RT-PCR negative test report not older than 72 hours.
b) Anyone who does not comply with this shall immediately be reported to the nodal person/authorities and made to strictly stay in the designated ‘quarantine room’ in the facility till the RT-PCR test report is negative.
c) All students in medical/engineering or other professional colleges who have arrived from Maharashtra should be tested via RT-PCR.
d) Nursing and paramedical college students should be tested once.
- Stricter compliance of Covid-appropriate behaviour in all colleges should be ensured by the college and university administration. There shall be a nodal person in the hostel and the classes to monitor the students’ health, more so of those from Maharashtra for Covid-19 symptoms.
- Students from Maharashtra who reside in hostels shall avoid frequently travelling to their native place unless it is strongly Justified. Such students returning from Maharashtra shall bring a negative RT-PCR test report that is not more than 72 hours old.
- Even short-term travellers between Maharashtra and Karnataka shall produce a negative RT-PCR certificate that is not older than 72 hours. This negative report shall be valid for 7 days. Besides, they shall self-monitor their health for 14 days and in case of respiratory symptoms like fever, cough, cold, sore throat, breathing difficulty, etc. shall seek immediate medical consultation and undergo Covid-19 testing.
- Employees from Maharashtra working in multinational companies, hotels, resorts, lodges, home stays in Karnataka should get the RT-PCR test done at their own cost.
Managements can be booked
- The relevant SOP for Covid-19 of GoK/University/National regulatory authorities like UGC, NMC, AICTE, etc. for higher educational institutions shall be strictly complied with. For any failure to do so, the head of the institution shall be held responsible under the Epidemic Diseases Act.
- It is recommended to ramp up testing and strengthen Covid-19 surveillance activities in all colleges and residential facilities which have accommodated students and others from Maharashtra.
- The guidelines for ensuring prevention of Covid-19 outbreaks in colleges will apply to hotels, resorts, apartments and all residential facilities in Bengaluru. The authorities of these facilities should ensure that a negative RT-PCR certificate that is not older than 72 hours and valid for 7 days is produced by any person travelling from Maharashtra.
- Outbreaks in any of these places occur only when the SOPs are not well implemented. The accountability for implementing the SOPs and outbreak response will be the responsibility of the heads of institutions.
- The health authorities shall monitor colleges/schools for compliance with Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and testing at regular intervals. All returnees from Maharashtra shall produce a negative RT-PCR certificate which is not older than 72 hrs. District authorities may take suitable preventive measures as and when necessary with intimation to the state government.