THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the number of Covid-19 cases surging at an alarming rate, the authorities have identified local transmission in and around Poonthura where the virus is spreading like wildfire. The health authorities have stepped up surveillance and launched aggressive testing at Poonthura, Manikyavilakam and Puthenpally which have been declared as critical containment zones by the district collector on Thursday. Four mobile testing labs have been deployed in these areas for swab collection.
According to sources, around 1,000 tests have been carried out in critical containment zones since the declaration of triple lockdown. As many as 77 people tested positive from Poonthura on Thursday alone and authorities are expecting an increased caseload in the coming days. As per the statistics released by the state government, 119 of the 600 tests conducted came positive at Poonthura in the past five days.Apprehension is mounting among residents and patients because of a lack of awareness. Many of them are unaware of the diagnosis process and believe that RT-PCR is the only test which can detect the virus and that the antigen test is not fool-proof.
Several patients were moved to SRM Medical College Hospital in Varkala while a few with mild symptoms are being treated at the General Hospital. However, complaints are mounting among patients that they are not getting proper medical care. “After testing, five of us were brought to the General Hospital in the same ambulance on Wednesday. They kept us locked inside the vehicle for nearly three hours. There was no food or water. Only on Thursday did they start serving us food. People with varying symptoms are kept in the same block,” John B said.
Forty-four people were moved to SRM Covid First-Line Care Centre (CFLTC) the day before after antigen testing. “We all are scared and there are only nine bathrooms for 55 patients. The number of washbasins is also limited. People have developed additional symptoms after getting admitted here,” said Johny C, a native of Poonthura who is currently under treatment at SRM Medical College Varkala.Christopher J, another patient admitted at SUT, Vattapara -- a Covid-19 treatment centre -- said no doctor has seen him after getting admitted.
Poonthura ward councillor J Sherly said she is being bombarded with calls from residents and patients. “Many patients currently admitted at various hospitals are calling me complaining that they are not getting proper treatment. A lot of them aren’t properly briefed about their treatment plan,” said Sherly.According to an official of the General Hospital, 105 Covid-19 positive cases are being currently treated there.
“Twenty-seven more suspected patients will be brought during the day. We are doing everything possible in our capacity to provide proper care. Only asymptomatic patients or ones with mild symptoms falling under Category A are sent to the CFLTCs. Doctors and other healthcare staff are deployed round the clock to screen them at the centres. They will be immediately moved to the General Hospital or Medical College Hospital if they develop severe symptoms,” said the official.He also added that they are finding it difficult to manage patients brought in from Poonthura and the coastal belt. “We cannot blame them and it would have been ideal if the authorities could have set up a CFLTC at Poonthura itself. They are a complaining lot.”
Lack of volunteers in containment zones
A lack of volunteers for delivering essential goods to the residents in the critical containment zones is becoming an issue. Though the state government has announced free ration, unavailability of other essential goods has left people in the lurch. “Demand for essential goods is growing and hence we have given the contact numbers of a few volunteers from the church for delivering goods to the residents. They can call us and give the list of the things and we will deliver them to their doorstep the next day. The volunteers of the civic body are also trying to chip in but a majority of them don’t have the money to buy anything,” said Jain Dillanai, a resident and a volunteer of St Thomas Church, Poonthura.