(Eds: Recasts) Bengaluru, Oct 8 (PTI) Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Thursday asked administrations of ten districts with high number of COVID-19 cases to work towards bringing down the mortality rate in the state to below one per cent and also ramp up RT-PCR testing instead of the rapid antigen tests (RAT).
Amid a spike in cases, Yediyurappa chaired a virtual meeting with Deputy Commissioners, Zilla Panchayat heads, Police Superintendents and District Health officers of the districts that have high positive cases.
'Officials have shared information regarding the increase in the number of deaths and positive cases in districts.
Efforts are underway to control it as much as possible in the coming week.
'We have asked officials to bring down the death rate to below one per cent. There has been control in 5-6 districts, we have said that it should happen in other districts as well,' Yediyurappa said.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, he said officials were working day and night and they will take all the necessary measures to bring things further under control in the coming week.
'Pointing to the increase in cases in Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a recent meeting has given certain suggestions and guidance regarding bringing it under control. In this context I have held interactions with officials from 10 districts,' he added.
According to the state COVID-19 war room's latest data, the fatality rate in Karnataka stood at 1.4 per cent.
On reopening of schools, Yediyurappa it was not discussed in the meeting and a decision will be taken keeping the situation in mind and after considering the parents' views.
The Chief Minister's Office (CMO) in a statement later said the districts had been doing more Rapid Antigen Tests and they were directed to reduce it and increase the RT-PCR test, which is considered the gold standard in detecting coronavirus infection.
A total of over 56,29,550 samples have been tested so far in the state out of which 1,05,248 on Thursday alone. As many as 51,221 among them were rapid antigen tests.
According to the release, Yediyurappa asked the officials to check the pandemic and bring down the death rate by identifying primary and secondary contacts of those infected, conducting target based testings and giving necessary treatment to them.
Noting that people have to understand that wearing masks, sanitisation and maintaining social distancing was the medicine for this pandemic, he said officials have to make them understand that the imposition of fine for not wearing a mask is part of creating awareness and the government has no other intentions.
The government on Wednesday had said the fine amount for not wearing a face mask in public will be reduced to Rs 250 from Rs 1,000 in urban areas and Rs 100 from Rs 500 in rural areas, following criticism of it and experts' opinions.
The Chief Minister, who reviewed the death audit in the backdrop of rise in mortality rate in Dharwad district, issued directions to dispatch a special team there.
He asked the officials to rectify shortcomings if any and bring down the number of cases and death rate with the cooperation from everyone.
To ascertain the deaths of patients within 72 hours of hospitalisation, death audits have to be conducted, the release said adding that 50 per cent of deaths have happened within 72 hours, hence testing to identify the infection early was crucial.
The Chief Minister has issued directions to ensure control of virus spread in rural areas and that the clinical protocols should be strictly followed.
It was decided to organise the annual Dasara festival in Mysuru this time in a simple manner, he said, adding the cases were on a rise in the district and asked the officials to send a report on the situation within a week's time.
All necessary protocols have to be followed during Dasara, and it should be encouraged to organise programmes virtually.
As of October 8 evening, cumulatively 6,79,356 COVID-19 positive cases have been confirmed in the state, which includes 9,675 deaths and 5,52,519 discharges, the health department said in its bulletin.
Bengaluru urban district tops the list of positive cases, with a total of 2,67,362 infections, followed by Mysuru 40,232 and Ballari 33,763. PTI KSU ROH VS VS