Bengaluru: A committee headed by cardiologist Devi Prasad Shetty, which submitted its interim report to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurapa on Tuesday, has recommended reopening of schools and colleges in a staggered manner.
The 13-member expert committee was set up by the Karnataka government to strategise for the prevention and management of the possible third wave of the pandemic. The committee feared that any further delay in the reopening of schools could make children vulnerable to malnutrition, child labour, child marriage, trafficking, begging.
In its 92-page report, the committee has recommended that the state government must focus on vaccinating the entire staff members of all colleges and schools in order to create ring immunisation of all adults around children on a war footing.
“Ring immunisation means vaccinate all adult members of a child/children`s family, school staff, transport vehicle staff, boarding staff and others who directly come in contact with a child in schools and in the family. Besides announcing Rs 2 lakh insurance coverage to all students who are not eligible for vaccination yet, which will encourage parents to send their wards to schools,” the committee said.
The committee observed that prior to opening schools ring immunisation must be created as physical attendance in schools will optimise learning, physical health, mental health and nutritional aspects of children.
After receiving the report and attending a detailed briefing by the committee members here, Yediyurappa said that the government is contemplating opening degree and professional colleges in the first phase after teachers and students are vaccinated.
“Experts have recommended that students studying in professional colleges need to attend the colleges physically. Therefore, the state government has decided to focus on vaccinating teachers and staff members of these institutions first,” he said.
The CM added that the committee has recommended upgrading paediatric ICUs and wards. The committee has also recommended recruiting additional manpower, including doctors, nurses and paramedic staff to tackle a possible third wave of COVID-19.
“Upgrading the existing SNCU/NICU, PICU, converting existing HDU to PICU, upgrading existing paediatric wards as HDU with piped central oxygen and suction facility so that they can be converted at short notice to PICU in case of a surge in paediatric cases,” the report said.
“Set up exclusive children`s hospital with 250 beds with provision for 20-bed PICU/HDU/NICU in facilities like Indira Gandhi Institute Of Child Health, and in the backward districts like Chamarajanagar, Yadgir, Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Chitradurga, Koppal and Haveri in the campus of district hospital/medical colleges,” stated the report.