Kerala COVID-19 death: High alert sounded in Pothencode, surrounding areas

Pothencode town wears a deserted look on Tuesday evening after the total lockdown in the wake of the death of a COVID-19 patient.

Pothencode town wears a deserted look on Tuesday evening after the total lockdown in the wake of the death of a COVID-19 patient.  

The Pothencode grama panchayat and its surrounding areas, including the suburbs of Thiruvananthapuram city, have been kept on high alert following the death of a COVID-19-infected 68-year old man on Tuesday. The Thiruvananthapuram district administration has decided to enforce a total lockdown in the region for at least three weeks with curbs of residents’ movements.

The deceased, a former Assistant Sub-Inspector, has been undergoing treatment in the hospital since March 23 when he was referred from Sree Gokulam Medical College, Venjaramoodu.

The body of the deceased was buried at the Kalloor Juma Masjid, near Pothencode, at 2.15 pm in adherence to the WHO-recommended guidelines. The body, secured in a triple-layer body bag, was buried in a 10-ft deep pit in the presence of two mosque officials and five health workers. None of his family members were present for the funeral.

Battling various ailments, he had been in a critical state since admission, which made it difficult for health authorities to collect information regarding his travel history and identify the source of his infection. That the deceased had no recent history of foreign travel and no infected contacts identified so far has left officials puzzled.

Three-weeks quarantine

Devaswom and Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who convened a meeting to take stock of the situation, said the residents of the Pothencode grama panchayat and parts of the Andoorkonam grama panchayat and Kattayikonam ward of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation will be required to go into “complete quarantine” for three weeks.

He also appealed those who had gone to the region from abroad or any other place that has reported to have confirmed COVID-19 cases after February to contact the district authorities by calling 1077 (toll-free). All others who were came in close proximity with the deceased have also been requested to subject themselves to medical examination and quarantine.

To ensure no one fell through the surveillance net, the police have been directed to obtain the passport details of natives who returned home from abroad after February.

Suggesting a “curfew-like situation” would be enforced in the region, a senior police official said additional deployment will be made to the region to ensure the residents remained confined to their homes. Route marches will also be taken out at regular intervals.

Contact tracing

The government has already quarantined health workers in the Thonakkal primary health centre and the Sree Gokulam Medical College, Venjaramoodu, who came in close contact with the deceased.

Based on the details provided by his family members and relatives, the district administration had released a patient flow-chart for contact tracing on Monday. He was found to have participated in a relative’s wedding that is estimated to have had several hundreds of people in attendance. These included people who had come from the United Arab Emirates as well as Kasaragod which has reported numerous COVID-19 cases. The deceased also attended two funerals in a mosque in Nagaroor and had gone to a sub-treasury office near the medical college in the city to collect his pension.

It has now emerged that the details with authorities are incomplete and new information of places the Pothencode native had visited was being are gathered. The deceased had participated in a parents-teachers association (PTA) meeting in the Manjamala Lower Primary School where two of his grandchildren studied. The government also ordered a branch of the Ayiroopara Farmers’ Service Cooperative Bank be closed down after it came to light that the deceased had attended a chit fund auction along with several other people.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 3:30:11 AM |

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