KOCHI: Aluva, a crucial hub for Kerala’s trade and commerce and a vital link between the highland districts and the rest of the state, has borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kochi. With the virus spreading alarmingly amongst the local populace, the Aluva market — bustling with activity until a fortnight ago — is deserted, with shops shuttered and people forced indoors.
Being a key transit point in the state, businessmen and traders from rural areas and distant districts are regulars at the market. This, experts said, has contributed significantly to the exponential rise in Covid-19 cases in the area despite the administration’s efforts to contain it. Those affected are a veritable microcosm of society. Headload workers, municipal cleaning staff, tea stall owners and traders have all been caught in the viral surge in July. Around 200 cases have been reported so far this month.
The cases of a 40-year-old autorickshaw driver near Aluva market and a 23-year-old municipal cleaning employee —both of whom tested positive on July 12, from unidentified sources — are worrying for the health department because of their presumably large contact list. “The spread of the infection to adjacent rural areas is a cause for concern,” a health department official told TNIE.
“Sixty to 70 per cent of those infected were asymptomatic and were identified only after they were included in the contact lists of confirmed symptomatic patients. We have intensified antigen testing in the area and have deployed three mobile sample collection units.”
An official with the district surveillance team said developments in the Keezhmad cluster would be critical as over 200 people, including those from the nearby panchayats of Choornikkara and Karumaloor, had attended an engagement function. “Those who attended the function also visited the Aluva market and travelled to other panchayats. The primary contact list of the host family head alone has over 100 persons,” the official said.
However, Aluva Municipal Chairperson Lissy Abraham said terming Aluva market a hotspot was uncalled for as the test results of many from the area are negative.
“Many people from the affected panchayats, including those who took part in the function at Keezhmad, had come to the Aluva market. Only 22 persons have tested positive from the Aluva municipality area so far,” she said.
Another concern is the large number of people who attended the funeral of an 86-year-old in ward 26 of Aluva municipality. Lissy said around 46 people visited the bereaved home. Antigen testing of all of them will begin on Friday.