The feared Covid-19 super spreader has reared its head for the first time in coastal Thiruvananthauram even as multiple clusters threaten to bloom in parts of Kerala. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan suspects that the State could well be treading dangerously close to the community transmission phase.

This is in in dire contrast to the situation in April and early May when the State was feted on national and international platforms for managing the spread of the panic, only to forfeit the accolades with the massive influx of its own citizens from affected areas elsewhere in the country and abroad.

Thursday marked the second time when daily new case count breached 300, and the Chief Minister said the record of 339 might well be breached sooner than later thanks to the super spreader, a fish wholesaler in Poonthura in Thiruvananthapuram, and multiple clusters elsewhere in the state.

“The situation might go out of hand if primary contacts create a chain of secondary contacts before throwing up a super spreader as witnessed in Poonthura. From here, the logical extension is community transmission, a phenomenon that could be waiting to happen any time,” the Chief Minister said.

Meanwhile on Friday, residents of Poonthura, where a strict triple lockdown is being enforced with police commandos thrown in to maintain law and order, ventured out – some of them sans face mask - in large numbers to protest restrictions on their movement to procure essential goods and services.

Protest in Poonthura

They clashed with the police, posing a major challenge to law enforcement authorities to keep their calm along a region where fishermen hamlets are located cheek by jowl.

Residents allege that not enough arrangements are available to accommodate the Covid-19 positive persons. They laid siege to at least three police vehicles. Meanwhile, Health Minister KK Shailaja said that the super spread was triggered by people coming from outside the State.

According to the Chief Minister, there is an increasing likelihood of multiple clusters forming in the cities leading to super spreads. “We see this happening in Poonthura. A new report by the World Health Organization has said that the risk of contracting the disease has increased dramatically,” he said.

Test numbers scaled up

“Therefore, gathering of people cannot be allowed under any circumstances. We must ensure good air circulation and proper ventilation where we stay. The State Health Department has steadily scaled up the number of sample tests on a daily to get a handle on the spread of the disease,” Vijayan said.

During the 24 hours ending Thursday noon, 12,592 samples were analysed. Till date, a total of 3,07,219 samples have been sent for testing and the results of 4,854 samples are yet to come. In addition, 66,934 samples were collected from high-risk priority groups as part of sentinel surveillance and 63,199 were negative.

Overall, the recovery rate in the state is trending slightly lower at 56.74 per cent, while the mortality rate has further improved to 0.43 per cent, among the best. Tests per million counted in at 8,746 on Thursday, much lower than neighbouring Tamil Nadu (19,708) or Karnataka (11,842).