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COVID-19: Kerala authorities in a fix as people test positive after quarantine period

Of the five positive cases reported in Kottayam, three had completed mandatory isolation

Published: 26th April 2020 06:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th April 2020 11:40 AM   |  A+A-

As the schools are about open after completing the lockdown period on May 3 parents have started queuing up to buy the CBSE textbooks for the upcoming academic year. (Photo | PA Sanesh/EPS)

Express News Service

KOTTAYAM: At a time when the state is preparing to bring back non-resident Keralites (NRKs) from Covid-19 hit countries, people who completed mandatory quarantine period of 28 days testing positive for the disease have put the health authorities in a quandary. Of the five positive cases reported in Kottayam, three had completed the quarantine period.

A male nurse who tested positive for the disease on April 23 had come back from Thiruvananthapuram on March 23, while a truck driver and a Samkranthi native woman, who were found with the infection on April 25, had returned to their houses from Thiruvananthapuram and Sharjah on March 25 and 11 respectively. This indicates people are testing positive for the disease up to the 44th day. Earlier, a person in Kannur had tested positive on the 40th day of arrival.

According to Kottayam district medical officer Dr Jacob Varghese, once infected, the virus can stay in the body for upto seven weeks in rare cases.

“We are fighting with a completely new disease and hence we can’t come to a conclusion at this stage. However, in some cases, the virus can stay in our body for 6-8 weeks, according to some public health experts. However, the infectivity strength of the virus is very low in such cases,” he said.

Same was the observation shared by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in his press meet, citing health experts.

“The infectivity possibility is high in the first 14 days of infection. After that, the virus may stay in our body. But infectivity power will be low,” he said.

At the same time, the new developments are forcing the health authorities to change the strategy in containing the disease. According to Dr Jinesh P S of Info Clinic, the government should immediately resort to random testing to find out whether community transmission has started already.

“With more cases being reported without knowing the source of infection and after the mandatory quarantine period, we should immediately commence random testing. Through random testing we can assess the gravity of the transmission as well as strengthen the containment measures by finding out more cases,” he said. 

Jinesh also suggested increasing the number of tests as much as possible, along with strict implementation of social distancing and washing hands. 

Meanwhile, a head load worker in Kottayam town market tested positive for the disease, forcing the authorities to be more cautious about the inter-state freight transportation as well.

“The movement of inter-state trucks was not restricted or monitored strictly considering tight-checking may affect the food supply. However, a headload worker in Kottayam marker is believed to be infected from a truck driver, forcing us to bring in place some guidelines for truck or lorry workers and people working in markets,” said P K Sudheer Babu, district collector.

Following this, restrictions have been placed on the number of workers assigned for unloading in the market.

“All the lorry workers, headload workers and traders must wear masks and maintain social distance. Sanitisers should be kept in all shops and should be provided for use by workers. The shop owners should provide adequate food packets to lorry workers. Lorry workers should not eat from hotels for any reason. Once the load is unloaded, the lorries must exit the market,” said the new set of guidelines.

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