Covid-19: Kerala worried as new cases pop up in green zones, prepares for return of expats

Written by Vishnu Varma
| Kochi |

Updated: April 29, 2020 4:19:57 pm

Kochi: Police personnel conduct a march to implement the COVID-19 lockdown strictly, in Kochi, Monday, April 20, 2020. (PTI Photo/File)
A string of new infections in double digits in districts that had been declared Covid-19-free has heightened worries amongst well being officers in Kerala at a time when the state has been leading from the front in combating the pandemic.

Between April 12 and April 20, the state recorded solely 34 new cases of coronavirus in an indication that the curve of new infections was starting to stabilise. In these days, the quantity of sufferers who recovered from the an infection every day remained persistently larger than new cases. But between April 21 and April 27, the state noticed 74 new cases added to its tally, taking without warning medical doctors and well being officers in war-rooms who had been retaining a watch on the state of affairs.

In truth, Kottayam district in central Kerala, which had the final of its coronavirus sufferers getting discharged in the primary week of April, accounted for 17 of these new cases. The neighbouring hilly district of Idukki, which was additionally Covid-free by the second week of April, reported 14 cases. Both districts, plotted underneath ‘green zone’ had been having fun with the fruits of lockdown relaxations after they have been swept by new cases of an infection.

What’s particularly worrying is that the state’s well being division has been unsuccessful in pin-pointing the supply of an infection in at the least 10 sufferers, deepening fears of a silent transmission of the virus inside the neighborhood. A scholar from Panachikkad, a headload employee in Kottayam, two nurses hailing from Thiruvananthapuram and a businessman in Vaikkom city are amongst these the place the supply of an infection hasn’t been proved but. In addition, the state hasn’t been in a position to detect the supply of the an infection in the four-month-old woman from Manjeri or the 68-year-old man in Thiruvananthapuram, each of whom succumbed to the virus. But when requested about the identical, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at his each day press briefing dismissed reviews of ‘community transmission’, including that the state hasn’t entered that stage but.

‘Virus doesn’t perceive boundaries’

Dr Abraham Varghese, president of the Kerala chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), stated the state authorities’s resolution to categorise districts such as Kottayam and Idukki as green zones based mostly on the quantity of infections and supply them instant lockdown relaxations was not a wise one. “The virus clearly doesn’t understand boundaries. When you classify a district as a green zone, you give the people there a false sense of confidence. They think they are safe and will rush out onto the roads. Such attitudes cannot be entertained,” stated Dr Varghese.

“It’s like a mosquito internet. If we finish up leaving gaps in the corners, the mosquito will take benefit of the loophole to enter. The virus acts equally. There can’t be any laxity on our half. We have been in a position to cut back the mortality charge as a result of of social distancing and a stringent lockdown. Otherwise, the quantity of cases would have gone by the roof.”
Behind containment in Kerala: robust healthcare system, effective strategies Experts say Kerala can’t be complacent with the diploma of progress it has achieved. (Source:: Kerala Govt PRD)
With the reporting of new cases this week, the federal government categorised each Kottayam and Idukki as crimson zones the place folks can step out solely for important companies. Four others – Kasaragod, Malappuram, Kannur and Kozhikode – are additionally in the crimson zone. Eight different districts are in orange zone the place some relaxations have been supplied for the general public.

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The Kerala department of IMA agreed with the Kerala authorities’s competition that the nationwide lockdown should not be lifted without delay submit May 3, however relaxed phase-by-phase. Restrictions should proceed in the crimson zone districts and particular person hotspots the place clusters of cases are suspected. At the identical time, to ease the financial strain, relaxations on resuming sure varieties of companies will be utilized in different locations. But, all social, political, non secular and cultural gatherings have to be banned. Inter-district and inter-state public transport might be suspended as properly.

Asymptomatic cases on the rise

States like Maharashtra and Gujarat detecting the novel coronavirus in asymptomatic sufferers with higher frequency has made well being officers in Kerala sit up and take word too. Though the official each day well being bulletins in Kerala don’t classify the lively cases on the premise of signs or the shortage of it, a supply confirmed that lots of infections in latest weeks have been detected in asymptomatic sufferers. When such sufferers can not verify a supply of an infection such as journey historical past or contact with a Covid-positive particular person, it turns into extra difficult and dire. Fears of the virus having entered an exponential stage deepens at that time. But each chief minister and well being minister KK Shailaja have repeatedly denied such a phenomenon.

READ | Health Minister K K Shailaja: ‘Was accused of creating panic… time has proved Kerala is on right track’

Experts say Kerala can’t be complacent with the diploma of progress it has achieved. It has to ramp up testing of samples, perform intensive contact tracing and proceed to implement stringent lockdown measures in weak areas.

“The next stage of transmission has begun in Kerala where people coming from other states and foreign-imported cases are testing positive. The community spread is small at the moment, but it’s happening. Earlier, we were able to trace the source of infection in 98% of the cases. But now, it has reduced to 80%. So the gap is widening. We have to be more careful,” stated Dr Padmanabha Shenoy, an immunologist and rheumatologist based mostly in Kochi.

He added, “In a video on January 31, I had said that asymptomatic persons are going to be the challenge in controlling this disease. That’s why we are asking to increase the testing rate of samples. When people start arriving from other states and countries and as we move toward a community spread, we have to increase testing. Only when we test a large section of the population will we be able to gauge the problems we face.”
kerala nurse coronavirus, kerala coronavirus cases, coronavirus covid 19, kerala health minister kk shailaja, india news, indian express Doctors and different well being employees lined up to provide a farewell to 1 of the oldest {couples} to battle again COVID-19 on the Kottayam Medical College, Kerala.
States throughout India have expressed hurdles in ramping up testing, particularly as a result of scarcity of PCR testing kits. Kerala is not any completely different both. In the preliminary days of the pandemic, Kerala’s testing charge per million was far forward of the others. But quickly, it was overtaken by states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh who subsequently reported a spurt in the quantity of cases, in reference to the Nizamuddin gathering. This week, CM Vijayan stated the federal government has sufficient inventory of testing kits, procured in half by MPLAD funds of Congress MPs Shashi Tharoor and Hibi Eden, and plans to extend testing. On April 26, as against the underneath 600 samples it checks on any given day, it despatched over 3,000 samples as half of random testing. Available outcomes of these samples confirmed 2,682 samples destructive and simply three testing optimistic.

The Kerala authorities can also be hoping to get formal approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for the indigenous testing equipment developed by a crew of scientists and clinicians on the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) in Thiruvananthapuram. The diagnostic take a look at equipment confirmed 100 per cent accuracy throughout trials at NiV, Alappuzha and matched with testing outcomes carried out utilizing RT-PCR. It can detect two areas of the gene, which can be sure that the take a look at doesn’t fail even when one area of the viral gene undergoes mutation throughout its present unfold. The course of of testing will be accomplished in underneath two hours and the price incurred for testing might be lower than Rs 1000.

The iceberg phenomenon

Dr Abey Sushan, district programme supervisor with NHM in Pathanamthitta district, stated all indications present that the coronavirus pandemic shows an ‘iceberg’ attribute the place clinicians and medical doctors can see the tip of the iceberg which represents the symptomatic and identified cases. But the big submerged, hidden portion of the iceberg contitutes the asymptomatic, unrecognised portion of the illness among the many inhabitants.

“This is actually the nature of the epidemic. There will be a large percentage of people who are asymptomatic and not being tested. There will be such people within the community…so first, we have to find all those people who are likely to test positive and isolate them. But however much we try to isolate, there will be some entropy. Some people are likely to fall out of the surveillance net because people move around a lot. These are inter-district or inter-state travellers such drivers of goods carriers. They are at high-risk,” he stated.
Explained: As COVID-19 fight rages, how short is the world of nurses? At a hospital in Kerala. (PTI Photo/File)
“Our strategy in Pathanamthitta is to identify a lot of these people driving into the district with essential goods and then find people who may have had social interaction with them.”

So far, Kerala hasn’t entered the exponential part of the pandemic the place case numbers will double in 3-Four days, stated Dr Sushan. But it’s an eventuality for which the state wants to organize.

“When we go into the phase, we will see overwhelming of the health system in districts where the machinery is not adequately prepared. In Pathanamthitta, we think the peak will come in mid-June to mid-July and we hope that it will be over by September,” he stated.

Even in Japan, the place social distancing is a norm and never a newly-acquired pattern, the coronavirus has entered the expoential part. India, in comparability, is a rustic the place social interactions between persons are a lot larger.

“The idea is to prepare the health system for such a phase. We are focusing on training the people and ensuring that infection control practices are being adhered to. So that when the exponential period sets in, we can be as prepared as we can be,” he stated.

The inward stream of expatriates

Even as it continues to snuff out new infections in the state, the federal government’s hardest problem is but to return. Nearly three lakh Malayali expatriates, a majority of them from the Middle East, have registered themselves on a authorities web site to return residence when worldwide flight operations to India will resume. That’s about 13% of the estimated 22 lakh Malayali expatriates settled across the globe.

Expert Explains | What is the future of migration from Kerala?

For a severely-strained well being equipment that has been working round the clock to sort out Covid-19, an enormous stream of folks into the state at a time like that is additional pressure on sources. But the chief minister has been clear in regards to the authorities’s process at hand. “This is their home. This is where their families are. They have every right to come home. And when they do, we will be ready to arrange facilities for them,” he stated at a press briefing this week.
coronavirus kerala, kerala lockdown, kerala police drone footage, kerala covid 19 cases, kerala govt novel coronavirus, coronavirus india, coronavirus news, latest news DGP Lokanath Behera working a drone in state capital Thiruvananthapuram to regulate lockdown violators.
Though the Centre hasn’t given the green sign but, Kerala has already begun to organize the groundwork for services to quarantine a overwhelming majority of them after they arrive. Instructions have been handed to all district collectors to search out such services. These embrace authorities and personal hospitals, hostels, faculties, motels and lodges, resorts, Ayurveda retreat centres, auditoriums and stadiums. For these keen to pay for higher services, such choices might be obtainable too.

But can the federal government afford to deal with everybody who arrives from overseas? That’s the key bone of competition. Doctors at IMA argue that international returnees should not be launched into residence quarantine as that might jeopardize the surveillance measures and foil the success the state has achieved until date.

Dr Varghese stated, “Allowing them to go home is suicidal because they might go around visiting people. Their quarantine has to be institutional, for a period of 28 days. Also, everyone who comes in must be investigated, not just the symptomatic ones . Even if they are asymptomatic, they can turn out to test positive later.”
The Ernakulam district authorities, in conjunction with the state well being division, unveiled a ‘walk-in sample kiosk’ (WISK) mannequin in early April by which well being employees can take swab or blood samples from a potentially-positive particular person inside two minutes.
Dr Fazal Gafoor, president of the Muslim Education Society (MES) and a member of the Covid-19 process pressure constituted by the federal government, stated the administration additionally faces a logistical dilemma in bringing these expatriates residence.

“Even when you bring them home on flights, safe distancing has to be practiced. There has to be a minimum of 3-ft distance. Only two out of the six seats can be occupied. So on a 200-seater aircraft, you can bring only about 70-80 people at a time. Therefore, there’s the question of how many flights we will have to operate to bring thousands of these people home. It will take months,” he stated.

The price of air tickets will naturally go up as airways won’t solely need to promote fewer seats however function empty flights from the state to Gulf nations to carry them again, he added.

The authorities on its half has indicated that it must accord precedence to those that have authentic causes to return residence. These embrace pregnant ladies, handicapped individuals, aged individuals who want medical remedy, college students, these on visiting visas and at last those that have misplaced their jobs and a spot of residence. An intensive screening might be carried out on the airports due to this fact to prioritise among the many travellers.

Dr Gafoor stated there was a key distinction in the attitudes of the Gulf states, the place 2 million Malayalis reside and work, and that of Kerala.

“Their attitude is that in case of an outbreak, people who contract the disease will be treated. But some people will die. So it can be dealt that way. That’s why we hear some complaints of people there who test positive being told to remain at home. But our attitude (in Kerala) is that we don’t want a single person to die.”

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