Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, reeling under a ‘triple lockdown’ for the past three weeks with the highest Covid-19 caseload in the state, has been flagged as reporting an extensive spread of the infection, higher than the state average.
On Tuesday, the capital district reported 222 new cases, taking the number of active patients under treatment to 2,936. Neighbouring Kollam district with 848 cases and Ernakulam with 798 cases are the second and third worst-hit districts.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan underlined the seriousness of the situation. “In Thiruvananthapuram, when you test 18 persons, one comes back positive. In Kerala, it is one in 36. In India, it is one in 12.”
The high caseload in Thiruvananthapuram district is largely attributed to the spillover of the infection into the community, especially in the coastal hamlets such as Poonthura, Pulluvila, Valiyathura, Anchuthengu and Kadakkavur, located on the outskirts of the capital city.
Kerala was the first in the country to officially confirm community spread of the virus, saying it had been observed in certain coastal villages and that the situation warranted a lockdown with suspension of all fishing activities and minimum movement of people.
The areas subsequently saw rapid antigen testing with high case positivity rate. Most cases were asymptomatic in nature and ferried to first-line treatment centres (FLTC) to reduce the pressure on hospitals.
“Apart from the villages on the coast, areas like Parassala, Kunnnathukal, Pattom, Perunkidavila, Balaramapuram and Kattakada are also seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases. Awareness campaigns and disease elimination protocols suited specifically for each of these areas are being carried out,” the chief minister said.
Aware of the high case positivity rate, health officials are looking to ramp up testing in the capital district to prevent missing out on asymptomatic cases. In Kerala, early detection of patients and timely medical help have led to reduction in the mortality rate. So far, nearly 40,000 routine RT-PCR samples have been tested along with nearly 7,000 pooled sentinel samples among frontline workers like health, police, grocery vendors etc. On Tuesday, 1150 samples were collected for antigen testing. As many as 35 teams of health workers are deployed in the clusters, taking samples for antigen testing.