THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Setting alarm bells ringing, the state recorded its highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases on Saturday with 62 more people testing positive. Worryingly, seven healthcare workers were among the new cases including some on screening duty at a check post designated for the entry of people returning to the state.
Of the total cases reported, 49 were returnees. Thirteen others contracted the virus due to close contact with people who were already infected. The hotspots in the state increased to 37 with nine new places being added to the list. Meanwhile, three people also recovered from the virus and were discharged.
The Kerala Government Medical Officers' Association (KGMOA) said that as the state now has all the factors in place for the dreaded community transmission, the government should not shy away from addressing the issue. It said a false sense of security among the public will do more harm than good for the state.
"The virological factors that increase the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 virus need to examined. Take the case of healthcare workers. One contracted the virus while transporting a sample to a virus research and diagnostic laboratory. Three contracted it while on duty at a check post designated for the entry of returnees. Though they had protective gear like gloves and masks, they contracted the virus. It's a serious issue. The government should examine how healthcare workers are contracting the virus," said a state committee member of the KGMOA.
Compared to the previous three months the state's chances of having community spread are high at this point due to factors like inflow of returnees, breaking the quarantine, easing of restrictions and false negative cases, he said.
"Among the positive cases, there are some whose source of infection is yet to be traced. There is no need to be apprehensive in talking about community transmission and the harm it could bring to society. As restrictions get eased, the break-the-chain strategy is being compromised. Social distancing is nowhere in sight. This spells trouble," added the officer.
The positive cases were reported from Palakkad (19), Kannur (16), Malappuram (8), Alappuzha (5), Kozhikode and Kasargod (four each), Kollam (three), Kottayam (two) and Wayanad (one). The healthcare workers who contracted the virus were from Palakkad (three) and two each from Kannur and Kozhikode.
One recovery each was reported from Kollam, Kottayam and Kasargod.
The new hotspot areas were Nagalassery in Palakkad, Chirakkal, Maloor, Kannur corporation, Payyanur municipality, Chembilod, Ayyankunnu and Kottayam Malabar in Kannur and Koruthodu in Kottayam.