Containment strategy, contact tracing of positive cases lacking in Kerala: Health Minister

Coming down heavily on Kerala, which has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases recently, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has written to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday, stating that the COVID-19 case detection in several parts of the State is mainly through testing of those reporting to health facilities with COVID-19-like illness coupled with no active surveillance to detect cases.

The State of Kerala has 14 districts and is presently reporting more than 20,000 cases per day, which is among the highest in the country.

In his letter, the Minister said that in view of the continued upsurge of COVID-19 cases in Kerala, a Central multi-disciplinary team was deputed to the State on July 30, and the team in its report submitted to the Ministry noted lapses in the manner in which the virus is being tackled in the State.

The Minister’s communication said that the team found a continued high number of COVID-19 cases being reported from almost all districts of the State, and highlighted that stringent containment measures were needed to control the spread of infections.

“The ongoing ABCD classification made in the State has not yielded desired results, and technical guidance from the Central government on defining containment zones and active case search within such zones is crucial for controlling high case positivity,” he said.

He added that any restrictions once imposed may be for a period of epidemiological significance, that is, at least 14 days, and may be effectively monitored. Also, comprehensive contact tracing of all positive cases through active case search is very low presently, which is leading to the spread of infections in the community. This needs to be addressed, the Minister said.

“The number of contacts traced per positive case is quite low. In few of the districts like Thiruvananthapuram, less than two contacts are traced per positive case. Usually, only household contacts are targeted,” the Health Ministry said.

The Central government further stated that the team had highlighted the lack of follow-up in home isolated cases, where a large number of family members are getting infected (intra-house transmission). Hence, home isolation of cases may be allowed only as per protocol and all such cases may be monitored daily.

“The quarantine of high risk contacts and people with co-morbidity should also follow detailed guidelines issued on the subject. The health infrastructure in certain districts is under strain due to high number of cases, particularly high occupation of Oxygen and ICU beds. Hence urgent action is needed to upgrade the health infrastructure in those districts,” the Minister has directed.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 4:25:05 PM |

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