Three months on, challenges galore for Kerala

Risks posed by ‘silent spreaders’ of Covid give health authorities a new headache

Published: 30th April 2020 06:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th April 2020 06:42 AM   |  A+A-

People wear masks at the Kerala station. (Photo| EPS/ TP Sooraj)

For representational purposes (Photo | TP Sooraj, EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the state is stepping into the fourth month of its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the changes associated with the transmission behaviour of the coronavirus is posing new challenges. On the road ahead, one major challenge before the health department is the risks posed by silent spreaders, comprising asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic and very mildly symptomatic persons. 

The other risks are cases of reinfection and the scenario in which some persons testing positive for Covid-19 after the 28-day quarantine period. It is learnt that the medical board as well as the expert committee constituted at the state level for dealing with Covid-19 cases will soon come up with a strategy to tackle the new challenges.

“The characteristic of the virus is that every day it comes with a new challenge. Take the case of symptoms. Normally, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat and fever are considered the symptoms. But now some international agencies say repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, loss of taste or smell should also be considered symptoms,” said a health official.

Cured test positive again
At the same time, around the world, some recovered patients have tested positive again and several people test positive after the 28-day isolation period. However, the state expert committee informed the government there was no need to worry about cured patients testing positive again as it is due to the presence of residual viral RNA. “As RT-PCR tests detect the presence of RNA in samples, they test positive again,” added the officer.

Meanwhile, the committee has stressed the need for confirming the probability of such persons infecting others. However, the mechanism for confirming this is not available in the state in a full-fledged manner, say sources. Hence, experts say a strategy has to be put in place for averting the risks of continued transmission. It is also learnt that taking note of these changes, the state medical board is pondering an extension of the isolation period from 28 days.

Will the cured ones infect others?

According to sources, there are three ways to check whether cured patients have the probability of infecting others.
One is virus culture, available at NIV, Pune. Next is a protein test, developed by the SCTIMST. The third is antibody testing.
If they have positive IgM, they may infect others.  A protocol on use of these options is needed
The state should remain cautious against reactivation of the virus in the body, warn experts

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