On July 31, Karnataka said even fully vaccinated persons coming in from Kerala must produce an RT-PCR negative report not older than 72 hours. However, the Centre’s advisory said RT-PCR test reports need not be mandated for fully vaccinated interstate travellers.
Kerala has been reporting over 20,000 Covid cases a day and Karnataka’s daily caseload has not crossed 2,000 since mid-July. A few residents from border district Kasargod have moved the Kerala high court against the mandate.
Raising concerns over the hurdles in implementing the mandate, experts actively involved in formulating Karnataka’s Covid management policy said individual states must be given autonomy to take decisions on crucial issues that can prevent a Covid surge.
On August 5, Kerala wrote to Karnataka seeking permission to produce either a negative RT-PCR report or completed Covid-19 vaccination certificate for interstate travellers. Kerala said it was following the same policy for incoming travellers.
Second wave in Karnataka began after Kerala students returned’
On August 8, regular passengers and political parties burnt Covid final vaccination certificates at the interstate border at Talapady, near Mangaluru, opposing the Karnataka move.
Experts said a spike in Karnataka’s cases in both waves began after people from Kerala started coming in. “Ahead of a third wave, we must control the spread of infection from places with high positivity rates. Despite heightened border surveillance, there have been reports of people from Kerala entering Karnataka without an RT-PCR report. They could be asymptomatic carriers,” said an expert.
Another expert said pressure was mounting on Karnataka to withdraw the RT-PCR test mandate from Kerala travellers. “Tests can’t be mandated for fully vaccinated persons as per the government of India guidelines for interstate travel. However, the state governments must be given the liberty to take decisions on their own. While Karnataka has made the test report mandatory for those coming from Maharashtra and Kerala, the resistance is more from Kerala passengers,” said the expert.
Experts claimed the second wave began in Karnataka in March 2021 after students from Kerala returned to their colleges in Dakshina Kannada and Bengaluru. At least 20-25 students from Kerala enter Dakshina Kannada with negative RT-PCR test reports every day, district officials said.