KOCHI: There is less probability of a community spread of Covid-19 in Kerala considering the wide network of our primary care system which is a model to the world, said epidemiologist Dr A Sukumaran.
Dr Sukumaran, who was part of the state’s Integrated Disease Surveillance programme during the Nipah outbreak in 2018, told TNIE that he believed it was safe to lift the lockdown provided we maintain a tight vigil.
“Hundreds of Keralites across the country and the globe are waiting to return and their arrival can trigger a second wave. To avoid this, we should seal all points of entry and conduct a thorough checkup of those coming from outside. People with suspected symptoms should be quarantined in Covid care centres,” he said.
Dr Sukumaran said most cases of Covid infection among primary and secondary contacts of the patients will be contained by April 14.“Theoretically, there is a possibility of asymptomatic cases in the state. To detect such cases, we should conduct random health checkups,” he said. “Kerala was able to check the spread of the virus due to its advanced public healthcare system. We proved our efficacy in preventive care by containing bacterial and viral diseases and successfully implementing immunisation and family planning programmes,” he said.
Limitations of rapid tests
Dr Sukumaran said rapid tests won’t be helpful in identifying asymptomatic patients. “Antigen tests will be more helpful in identifying early symptoms of the disease and quarantining people. This will help in reducing the chances of transmission,” he said. He said antigens were particles that caused the body to create an antibody.
“When a person contracts coronavirus infection and recovers, the body creates antibodies to fight re-infection. When a person is newly infected by a virus, it takes several days for the level of antibodies to increase and be detected. Therefore, antigen tests are more useful in diagnosing a new infection,” he said.