KOCHI: The high prevalence of Covid-19 among people in the Kuttampuzha tribal belt despite mass testing and vaccination drives has become a cause for concern among health authorities. On Thursday, the health department shifted 154 people from two settlement colonies to various domiciliary care centres after they tested positive for the virus, recording a test positivity rate (TPR) of 58%. As many as 264 people belonging to the Kunchipara and Thalavachapara colonies had undergone RT-PCR tests on Tuesday. Up to 92 of those confirmed infected on Thursday are from Kunchipara colony, while 62 are from Thalavachapara.
The health department, in association with the forest and tribal welfare departments and Kuttampuzha panchayat, had been conducting a mass testing drive in the colonies over the past three weeks. While the tribal belt had reported just 46 Covid cases in 2020, up to 541 were reported from January to June 2021, taking the total number of cases to 587. There are 287 active cases in the belt, of which 212 are from Kunchippara.
Recently, some people from the Kunchipara colony had attended the funeral of Thayappan, a 95-year-old tribal leader at Thera colony. A few days later, 20 people in Kunchipara developed symptoms, after which the health department conducted a mass testing drive to find that 50 people have been Covid-infected. It was following this that up to 264 people were tested.
“Though we had sensitised the residents against gatherings and the need to maintain social distancing, they attended the Pongala festival at the temple in the colony on May 31. The event turned out to be super spreader, as Kunchipara which had zero cases until recently has reported 212 cases in 10 days,” said medical officer Dr Anoop Thulasi.
The department will conduct mass testing at Variyam, Meenkulam, and Mappilapara colonies on Friday. A team including five doctors, four staff nurses, nine junior health inspectors, and one data entry staff have been deputed to the camps, which will be coordinated by Dr Thulasi and health inspector Shiju.
“There are eight active cases at Ilamblassery and four at Thalukandam. We conducted antigen tests on 30 people in Kunchipara on Thursday, of whom one tested positive. A few people have fallen ill at Variyam colony. The chances of infection at Variyam are high as the residents there have close links with the people in Kunchipara,” said the health inspector.