Two days after issuing a circular permitting home quarantine of international and inter-State travellers after seven days of institutional quarantine, Karnataka has now also done away with the previously mandatory COVID-19 test for asymptomatic individuals.

A circular in this regard was issued by Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education), late on Wednesday.

Stating that the new guidelines were based on recommendations from the State’s COVID expert committee, Mr. Akhtar said, “There is not enough space in hotels and as more and more travellers are coming in, it may lead to overcrowding.”

For the elderly

According to the circular, any person who has completed seven days of institutional quarantine and is asymptomatic can be permitted for home quarantine without a COVID-19 test (RT-PCR), subject to undergoing a medical check-up. The medical check-up here refers to thermal screening with temperature less than 37.5°C or 99.5°F and pulse oximetry greater than 94%.

“All elderly people (aged above 60) and those with comorbidities (such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, asthma, heart ailment, and renal disease) are required to be clinically evaluated diligently prior to shifting them for quarantine,” the circular stated.

“All such persons will be mandatorily under home quarantine for the next seven days. Before shifting to home quarantine, it should be ensured that hand stamping is done and entry is made in Quarantine Watch app,” the circular added.

Mr. Akhtar said the State had identified a private hospital for COVID test of travellers in the vulnerable category, especially pregnant women.

“Their tests will be done at the private hospital on priority so that they can be sent for home quarantine without much delay,” he said.

Justifying the decision of reduction in the number of institutional quarantine days from 14 to seven, he said, “The government of India has done this too and new literature shows that 14 days is not necessary. Studies have also shown that transmission of the virus through asymptomatic persons is rare.”

115 new cases

Meanwhile, 115 new cases were reported in the State on Thursday, taking the total number of positive cases to 2,533. This includes 47 COVID deaths, two non-COVID deaths, and 834 discharged persons. The State’s fatality rate stands at 1.85%.

Among the new cases, 95 are inter-State travellers and two international passengers.

The highest number of cases were reported from Udupi with 29 patients, Dakshina Kannada with 24, Hassan with 13, Bidar with 12, and Bengaluru Urban with nine, said Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar, who is also the COVID-19 spokesperson for the State.

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