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COVID-19: Need more evidence before ruling out community transmission, say experts

While the government says the state is yet to report any incidence of community transmission, experts feel that the claim should be backed by evidence.

Published: 26th April 2020 06:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th April 2020 11:42 AM   |  A+A-

A health health worker showing thumbs up at COVID -19 testing center. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Increasing number of COVID positive cases with the untraceable source of infection indicates that Kerala could be on the cusp of community transmission or entering stage three of Covid-19 pandemic.

After the patients from Pothencode, Mahe and the four-month-old baby in Malappuram, the infection source of the Asha worker in Kollam and the headload worker in Kottayam remains unknown.

While the government says the state is yet to report any incidence of community transmission, experts feel that the claim should be backed by evidence. It is being pointed out that definitive planning is needed on dealing with the large inflow of expatriates and people from other parts of the country.

If not the result will be larger outbreaks of local transmission or reporting of multiple unrelated clusters in several parts of the state.

“In Kerala, a large outbreak is yet to be reported from a particular area. But some clusters are there. What is raising doubts is the obscurity associated with the source of infection in some positive cases. To point out, the source of infection of the Pothencode case, Mahe case (Kannur), the case of a four-month-old baby at Kozhikode and the Asha worker at Kollam remains unknown. This uncertainty is a serious affair and will have to be cleared at the earliest,” said an officer of the Health Department.

At the same time, a community medicine expert said that most often it is the difficulty involved with preparing the contact list that puts the source of infection in the dark.

“In some of the positive cases where the source of infection is yet to be established, the case couldn’t reveal more details as they were in a critical situation. Also, it will be difficult to remember and recount the contact points in detail. In some cases, the positive case deliberately conceals the details. This makes contact tracing and identifying the source of infection difficult,” said the community medicine expert.

With concerns over a community transmission looming large, officials are a bit sceptical on opening up the borders after lockdown.  

“Concerns are raised only about international travellers. But air passengers are of least concern. Those entering the state via road and rail are what worries us. Already many are coming from TN. The only way forward is restricted entry through borders. Entry can be restricted only at the checkposts. You can’t seal the entire border,” said a senior bureaucrat.

‘State ready to welcome expatriates, but with some conditions’

Meanwhile, Health Department officers said that the state is bracing itself for undertaking the biggest risk since the Covid-19 outbreak, as it will receive a large inflow of expatriates and people from other parts of the country. However, admission to the state will be subjected to certain conditions.  

“One such condition is that neither friends nor relatives will be allowed to welcome the returnee at the airport. Those who don’t have any symptoms will be allowed to go home.

But they will remain in room isolation for 14 days. Those who show symptoms while screening at the airports will be sent to quarantine centres or to COVID Hospitals,” said an officer.  

Fearing community transmission, the state is also planning to identify certain entry points (interstate check posts) when interstate travel is allowed.  

“A plan of this kind is there. Other than that of opening all interstate check posts, only selected ones will get opened. This will help keep a tab on the entrants and to screen them,” said the officer.

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  • anthony

    With the expected large inflow of expatriates and people from other parts of the country
    1 month ago reply
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