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'Inefficient contact tracing': Central team to Kerala points out loopholes in COVID management

Kerala alone has reported 49.85% of COVID-19 cases in India over the past week and has been pushing its daily tally to over 40,000 every day for the last several days

Published: 03rd August 2021 07:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th August 2021 04:57 PM   |  A+A-

Covid vaccination, Vaccine, Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram

People waiting in queue to obtain Covid vaccination token at a health centre at Puthukurichy in Thiruvananthapuram. (Photo | BP Deepu, EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A central team sent to Kerala to help it manage the COVID-19 outbreak has identified several shortcomings on the part of the state in managing the pandemic such as inefficient contact tracing, perimeter control and lack of active surveillance.

As per the data shared by the Union health ministry on Tuesday, Kerala alone has reported 49.85% of COVID-19 cases in India over the past week and has been pushing its daily tally to over 40,000 every day for the last several days.

Kerala also has nearly 41% of the total active coronavirus cases in the country at present.

Ten districts in the state, Malappuram, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Kasargod, Pathanamthitta, Wayanad and Idukki, have been showing increasing trend in daily cases over the past four weeks, figures also showed.

The Centre last week had sent a six-member team, led by the National Centre for Disease Control director S K Singh, to the state and tasked it with visiting some districts.

ALSO READ: Call for better crowd control, Covid vaccine strategies to contain pandemic in Kerala

In the press briefing on Tuesday, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the ministry, referred to observations from the team saying that it has identified inefficient contact tracing in the districts there which is a concern.

“Nearly 91% of the cases are under home isolation there but the contact tracing ratio is only 1:1.5 instead of the recommended 1:20 for every positive case,” he said, adding that the state has been advised to intensify contact tracing and perimeter control.

The team has also recommended creating containment zones around clusters and expanding active surveillance or house-to-house to search.

The visiting team, according to the official, has particularly highlighted the case of Malappuram which has a test positivity rate of 17% and cautioned about ICUs and ventilators coming under strain in the district.

The fourth round of national serosurvey by the ICMR — which tests blood samples from random individuals for antibodies against Covid virus — had recently shown that only about 44.4% people in Kerala had sero-positivity, as against the national average of 68%.

Many experts have said that the low sero-prevalance in the state shows that a high number of people  are still susceptible to the virus and offers an explanation for the sustained second COVID-19 wave there even as cases have fallen dramatically in other parts over the last couple of months.

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