Kerala

COVID-19 threatens to engulf Kerala’s coastal belt

Police blocking the road at Manassery, which is the entrance to the Chellanam panchayat, on Thursday. Photo: H. Vibhu

Police blocking the road at Manassery, which is the entrance to the Chellanam panchayat, on Thursday. Photo: H. Vibhu  

COVID-19 is threatening to engulf Kerala’s coastal belt as densely populated fisher colonies with their crowded living environs and inherent occupational hazards faced by fisherfolk in their daily activities of livelihood have made this region vulnerable to intense disease transmission.

Apart from five clusters found in three coastal wards of Thiruvananthapuram, the Chellanam area in Ernakulam district and the coastal areas of Alappuzha too have begun to show signs of cluster formation, where intense disease containment activities are on now.

Public health experts pointed out that the coastal belt should be seen as one large community cluster because coastal living conditions were the same everywhere.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Saturday that intense surveillance, testing and containment activities had to be focussed on the coastal areas.

Stringent measures

Stringent measures, including declaring these areas as containment zones and preventing the movement of people outside, restrictions in the movement of fishermen across borders and controls in fish markets, were necessary as it would not take long before the disease transmission reaches inland, Mr. Vijayan said. He said that intense disease transmission was being reported across the State now.

COVID-19 threatens to engulf Kerala’s coastal belt
 

In Thiruvananthapuram, where five clusters had been reported in coastal wards within the city Corporation, the situation was fluid. Of the 69 fresh cases reported in the district on Saturday, 46 were through local transmission and 11 cases were with no known source of infection.

In Alappuzha, 51 out of the 87 cases reported were developed through contact transmission. Local transmission was rife in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police camp at Nooranad, Kayamkulam market, and in the coast where two fishermen were now positive.

First-line centres

More first-line treatment centres were being readied in all districts in anticipation of a surge in patient load and officials from various departments were being deployed to help the Health Department staff.

Vigil was tightened in Malappuram where four clusters were reported. Some 7,266 tests using viral antigen detection kits in Ponnani taluk yielded 89 positive cases.

In Ernakulam, testing was intensified in the Chellanam coastal belt where a cluster was in the making with 13 positive cases. Another 161 symptomatic cases were reported in the region.

Controls were being imposed in the markets at Kasaragod where local transmission cases are once again on a upswing. In Kollam too, the coastal belt was very vulnerable to COVID-19 after three fishers who tested positive had transmitted the disease to 15 persons.

Mr. Vijayan said that a special action plan had been formulated for surveillance, prevention and containment in the tribal belt of Wayanad.

Mr. Vijayan appealed to the people to cooperate with the antigen tests. Asymptomatic persons formed a chunk of the cases detected, however, they can still transmit disease. Hence active case finding is very crucial, he pointed out.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 11:51:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/covid-19-threatens-to-engulf-states-coastal-belt/article32053429.ece

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