Cases continue to rise in Kerala, with active cases touching 1.7 lakh on 3rd August, and new daily positive cases at 22k. A team of senior officials from the health ministry, headed by Sujeet Singh, director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) visited the state to take stock of the situation and recommend appropriate public health interventions.
Cases continue to rise in Kerala, with active cases touching 1.7 lakh on 3rd August, and new daily positive cases at 22k. A team of senior officials from the health ministry , headed by Sujeet Singh, director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) visited the state to take stock of the situation and recommend appropriate public health interventions.
Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Wednesday that the team has submitted its report, and that he has asked Kerala’s Chief Minister to take more proactive measures. "I have sought the state's cooperation in managing the situation and have assured the central government's complete support," he tweeted.
A source in the health ministry who is familiar with the report said that there is not enough "active surveillance" in most districts of Kerala. "Case detection is mainly through testing of those reporting to health facilities with Covid-like illness," they explained.
The experts also found an "abysmally low" level of contact tracing, another source said. For example, in Mallapuram district, just 1.5 contacts were being traced for every case, on average.
Experts say that a ratio that low implies that even primary contacts are being missed. Another source pointed out that average family size in this district is more than five, so a 1:1.5 contact tracing ratio means that even primary contacts like family members are not being tested. "This lack of contact tracing, results in an undetected pool of asymptomatic/ mildly symptomatic individuals in the community," they said.
In many districts, the proportion of RT-PCR to antigen tests was 20:80, the source said, and average daily tests conducted were on a downward trend despite the increasing number of cases. Institutional quarantine and isolation facilities also had "low acceptance", which the team feels has contributed to transmission of Covid-19 within families. "This was visible during visits to field areas. Most of the members of large joint families were found positive," the source said.
The team also found that the containment and micro-containment zones were not defined according to Central government guidelines. "The perimeter control and cordoning off of containment zones is not very strict," the source further said.
The Union health minister on Wednesday also wrote to the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan highlighting that stringent containment measures are needed to control the spread of infection. “The ongoing ABCD classification made in the state has not yielded desired results and the technical guidance from government of India on defining containment zones and active case search within such zones is crucial for controlling high case positivity,” he said in the letter. ET has seen a copy of the letter.
He also said that the restrictions imposed may be for a period of at least 14 days and should be effectively monitored. He also stressed on the need for a comprehensive contact tracing of all positive cases through active case search which he said was found to be “very low presently” (i.e. 1: I .7 only). He said this is leading to spread of infection in the community.
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