THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Can complacency lead to the rapid surge of a pandemic? There will be no better example for this than the capital district where laxity played a role in the flare-up of Covid-19 cases, according to experts. The district, where the increase in the number of new cases was slow at one stage, registered a rapid rise since July 1. The district also grabbed national attention on July 17 as community transmission was confirmed in two of its coastal wards — Poonthura and Pulluvila. It was for the first time that a state had confirmed community transmission of Covid-19.
At present, the district is in the top slot for having the most number of Covid positive cases, active cases, contact transmission cases and Covid deaths in the state.“For Thiruvananthapuram, the situation has gone from bad to worse of late. Its test positivity rate is above five per cent. The district is also expected to deal with a high burden of Covid-19 caseload. Nearly everything that could go wrong has gone wrong,” said a member of the Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram.
At the same time, officials of the District Medical Office said the complacency of the public should be blamed for the worsening Covid-19 situation in Thiruvananthapuram.
“The lockdown was intended to reduce infection transmission. But the people’s response to it was not that satisfactory. Crowding was witnessed at shops, market places and other institutions in that period. Social distancing and proper wearing of facemasks were also not followed. All these contributed to contact transmission and cases with unknown sources of infection,” said a DMO official.
On being asked what had gone wrong in the coastal areas, the official said the fisher community didn’t take the warning seriously and the result was the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The first signs of infection transmission getting out of control became visible in the corporation limits. The entire corporation area was first brought under triple lockdown for a week on July 5. Though it was extended twice, it turned out that the containment measures didn’t produce the desired effect as new cases, especially contact transmission cases, spiralled unabated.
On July 28, it was decided to continue the lockdown for an indefinite period, which was lifted only on August 14.According to Dr Anup Warrier, head of infectious diseases and infection control, Aster DM Healthcare, the high number of local transmission cases shows that the lockdown did not have the intended effect.At the same time, District Medical Officer K S Shinu said, “There is still time left for the district to recoup. But for that, the wholehearted support of the people is needed. They should understand that the restrictions like lockdown are for their benefit and they should adhere to the same without any lapse.”
Meanwhile, the officer also added that at some places, people try to hoodwink the authorities concerned and conduct marriages and funerals by flouting the regulations. “I would say some of the clusters were formed in the district as a result of marriage and ceremonies associated with death. While only 50 persons are allowed to attend a marriage function and 20 a death ceremony, it was observed that people attended such functions in shifts. Thus, instead of altogether 50 people attending a marriage function, six or eight shifts of 50 people each attended the function,” said Shinu.
What’s ahead for the district?
According to experts, with restrictions getting lifted, people should become more cautious. Adherence to social distancing and mask-wearing should have to be followed religiously. “What the district had shown is that even the slightest complacency could prove disastrous. In the city and rural limits, coastal areas and tribal hamlets, the infection transmission is progressing rather at a steady pace. For some more days, the peak will continue. After that, if people follow the preventive and control measures, a plateau could be expected,” said a member of the Covid-19 state expert committee. When the chief minister was asked at his media briefing as to when the situation in Thiruvananthapuram could be brought under control, he said, “Having situation under control is the key. Once we lose control over the situation, returning to the normal might take its own time.”