THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Anchuthengu, one of the large clusters in the district with a population of 22,000, is at a critical point where stiff local resistance has drastically brought down the number of daily tests. The total number of test centres have come down from six to one, and alarmingly the number of people who turn up for tests have decreased from hundreds to barely 20. Fewer tests would signify fewer positive results, say health officials.
The region that reported 100 positive cases on a single day now reports in single digits.
On Wednesday, only 25 tests were done of which three tested positive. On Monday, 46 tests were done of which nine tested positive. Therefore, the numbers cannot be considered an indicator of Covid-19 situation in Anchuthengu given the fact that even a quarter of the population has not been tested so far, sources said.
From political misinformation campaigns in the wake of upcoming local body elections to lack of facilities in the Covid First-Line Treatment Centres (CFLTCs), the reasons for local resistance are aplenty.
Apart from these, the district administration’s standing instruction to do tests only after taking the count of slots in CFLTCs in and around Anchuthengu is also a reason.
“The Anchuthengu conundrum is compounded due to the lack of manpower in the health sector. Therefore, no new CFLTC is opened here,” said a frontline health worker. The fall in number of tests and the protests are interconnected. The public resistance is generated from the villagers’ mistrust of Covid tests and their reluctance to be quarantined.
“The latest protest was to allow the women to go out for selling fish. The district administration, to disperse the protesters, had assured them that a decision will be taken by Monday. Talks of testing the fisherwomen who want to go out to earn their bread are on. However, this is against ICMR guidelines as we can only find out if persons are infected till they get tested. This could turn out be a major health hazard here as the panchayat has many people with comorbidities,” said Dr Ramakrishna Babu, taluk nodal officer.
Fresh cases in Kadakkavoor
In a setback to the plans to gradually unlock curbs in Anchuthengu, the neighbouring region of Kadakkavoor reported 11 cases from 70 tests. Dr Ramakrishna Babu, health official in charge of Anchuthengu cluster, said the spike in Kadakkavoor was unexpected. “The cases are mostly transmitted from Anchuthengu. People in Anchuthengu have to come to Kadakkavoor to meet their essential requirements. We are planning to do more tests in Kadakkavoor. If this situation persists, relaxing the restrictions could prove very dangerous. More tests would be done in Anchuthengu as well,” he said.
Date No of tests +ve cases
Aug 19 25 3
Aug 18 25 4
Aug 17 46 9
Aug 8 476 125