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Abysmal contact tracing, lower daily tests... Fault lines in Kerala's Covid fightback

According to sources, the team found no active surveillance in most districts, and case detection is done mainly through testing of those reporting to health facilities with Covid-like symptoms.

Kerala Covid situation Expert panel ovbservations-VPN
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New Delhi, First Published Aug 4, 2021, 5:54 PM IST
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The central team that visited Kerala to assess the management of the Coronavirus pandemic last week found glaring lapses that have caused a surge in cases in the state.

According to sources, the team found no active surveillance in most districts, and case detection is done mainly through testing of those reporting to health facilities with Covid-like symptoms.

The six-member team also came across abysmally low contact tracing. 

Citing the instance of Malappuram, sources said that the district has a case contact ratio of 1:1.5. 

"This is more important as the average family size in this district is above 5. This implies that even the primary contacts are being missed out. This lack of contact tracing results in an undetected pool of asymptomatic mildly symptomatic individuals in the community," sources said.

"In spite of an increasing trajectory of cases, the week on week average daily testing is showing a downward trend. Also, in many districts, RT-PCR tests are not being used in sufficient proportion. In many districts, RT-PCR/ RAT ratio is 20:80," they added. 

The central team was informed that facility-based isolation has very low acceptance, thus contributing to the transmission of infection within families and, as a result, high TPR. Most members of large joint families were found positive.

Among other observations that the team briefed the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya about included one that stated that containment and micro-containment zones were not made as per guidelines established by the central government. In fact, in most cases, the team said, there were no surrounding buffer zones. 

In light of the expert team's observation, Mansukh Mandaviya spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the phone and discussed the issues.

Mandaviya also wrote to the Kerala chief minister, asking him to take more proactive measures and precautions to control the ongoing situation in the state.

The Kerala government on Wednesday decided to ease some of the lockdown measures in areas where Covid-19 cases are showing a stabilising trend.

State Health Minister Veena George said that a triple lockdown would be imposed for shops at places where over ten people in a population of 1,000 are infected in a week.

However, the minister urged the business establishments to make special arrangements to avoid crowding and ensure social distancing on their premises.

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