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Public’s cold response to testing: Health authorities feel the heat

Lack of cooperation by the families in the new clusters is adding to the woes of health authorities who are already grappling with the spiralling number of Covid-19 cases in the city even as the sprea

Published: 06th August 2020 04:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th August 2020 03:06 PM   |  A+A-

Covid-19 testing

Covid-19 testing in Kerala. (Photo | Shaji Vettipuram, EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Tackling the Covid-19 crisis in the state capital is becoming a mammoth task for health authorities. Isolating, testing and tracing primary and secondary contacts of infected persons at Thumba, Menamkulam, Puthukurichy and Pallithura -- the new epicentres of the disease -- have become impossible. As per statistics, 260 people from Puthukurichy and Pallithura tested positive between July 17 and August 4.

After the fishermen community, the virus has hit the headload workers in the capital. It is learnt that more than 100 headload workers were found to have contracted the virus when nearly 300 people were tested at the KINFRA Park around a week ago. More headload workers tested positive during a screening at the FCI godown at Kazhakkoottam.

Lack of cooperation by the families in this new cluster is adding to the woes of health authorities who are already grappling with the spiralling number of cases in the city. To create more awareness among the public on the need to get tested, the authorities are planning to train local volunteers. The political blame game, which is in full swing ahead of the local body elections, is also adversely affecting the containment efforts.

Kadinamkulam panchayat president P Felix said people are generally reluctant to get tested. “Puthukurichy and Maryanadu areas, with around 8,000 population, are the worst hit. Mass testing is required in both these places. None of the primary and secondary contacts of the infected people are willing to get tested. We suspect more than 50 per cent of the population in these places are infected,” said Felix.

He added that though the panchayat has requested for additional rapid antigen testing kits, the health authorities refused to arrange the same. “We were told that only 50 kits could be allocated to each PHC. Following our demand, the deputy speaker arranged for around 700 kits for the panchayat. We are conducting testing in the affected areas, but the turnout is very low. We’ve the capacity to screen around 200 people per day, but only 50 people are turning up,” said Felix.

He alleged that the public is being misguided by political parties. “Local body elections are round the corner and Opposition parties have launched a campaign against the government. They are misguiding people by telling them not to cooperate with testing.” Meanwhile, Mangalapuram block Congress committee president H P Shaji alleged that proper testing is not being done and the authorities are trying to blame the public. 

“The reality is that there is no effort from authorities. The government doesn’t want to test more because the number of cases would go up,” said Shaji. He demanded the government to arrange better facilities at the first-line treatment centres. “A section of people don’t want to get tested because of poor facilities at these centres. The government should first fix those issues.” According to officials, there needs to be stringent enforcement of lockdown measures. “Many traders and residents from these areas come out to shop at Attingal, Chanthavila and markets in Kazhakoottam. All access to the city should be sealed immediately. If this is not done, the entire central Thiruvananthapuram would be affected,” said an official.

Lack of cooperation by the families in the new clusters is adding to the woes of health authorities who are already grappling with the spiralling number of Covid-19 cases in the city even as the spread of virus among headload workers adds to the panic

Blame game 
With the local body elections round the corner, the opposition parties have launched a campaign against the government. They allege that authorities don’t want to test more because the number of cases would go up.

The opposition is further demanding upgradation of facilities at first-line treatment centres. Meanwhile, Kadinamkulam panchayat president P Felix claimed the public is being misguided by political parties. “The opposition is misguiding people by telling them not to cooperate with testing,”
he said.



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