R-value declines, but Karnataka cautious on easing curbs | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: In an indication of Covid-19 infections declining in the state, the R-value has fallen below one after crossing the psychological threshold in the first week of this month. However, with lessons learnt the hard way during the second wave, the government is unlikely to lift restrictions like night curfew anytime soon.
“The Covid situation in the state is well under control as fresh cases are stable,” said chief secretary P Ravikumar. “The drop in R-value is an encouraging trend. However, we cannot afford to take it easy and relax curbs. Let us wait for the festival season to get over and observe the emerging situation before taking a call on the status of curbs.”
The R-value, a measure of the rapidity with which the virus spreads, had reached six in May when the second wave of infections was at its peak before sliding by the end of June. It reached 1.02 in August, before dropping to 0.92 on August 9. Officials say it slid further to reach 0.89 on August 18.
Ensuring an R-value of below one is significant in terms of pandemic management. If it is more than one, it means an infected person can spread the virus to more than one person, leading to a gradual surge.
“The decline is a heartening trend especially after it briefly crossed the one mark earlier this month,” said Dr MK Sudarshan, chairman of the state’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). “It is especially significant since schools are set to reopen for regular classes for grades 9 to 12 from Monday.”
The sustained low R-value level is reflected in the fact that daily fresh cases have hovered around the 1,500-mark since the last week of June. However, the most encouraging trend is that the overall test positivity rate (TPR) in the state has fallen below 0.8%, with hotspots like Bengaluru recording lower levels (0.5%) than the state average.
Even Dakshina Kannada district, which recently entered the red zone after breaching the 5% TPR mark, has shown a declining trend with the positivity rate falling below 3.5%. Hospitalization has also hit a low. On Friday, only 131 of the 1,939 Covid beds in Bengaluru were occupied.
However, wary of a surge especially since a string of festivals are around the corner, the government has decided to continue with curbs at least till Ganesh Chaturthi on September 10.
While night curfew, which kicks in at 9pm, has been clamped across the state including in Bengaluru, weekend curfew has been imposed in districts that border Kerala, where the pandemic situation is still grim. Kerala has a TRP of over 15%.
Pubs have not been allowed to resume business while theatres can operate with only 50% occupancy. Noting the flattened curve, many experts have predicted a further decline in infections and say it also indicates the end of the second wave.
“Barring slight fluctuations, the curve has been flat since the end of June,” said noted epidemiologist Dr T Jacob John. “While it will not touch zero for practical reasons, the present trend indicates that the second wave ended somewhere in June or early July.”


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