Covid-19: Kerala CM calls for heightened vigil

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on February 11, 2021

Kochi: A medic prepares the dose of COVID-19 vaccine before giving it to a beneficiary, at Ernakulam Government General Hospital in Kochi, Saturday, January 16 (File Photo)   -  PTI

State Government announces new testing strategy

Kerala Chief Minister has said that there is a need for heightened vigil against the Covid-19 virus since the latest sero-prevalence study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) points to the fact that the state still had a huge population susceptible to the raging pandemic.

The Chief Minister told newspersons here that the state had adopted the strategy of keeping disease transmission in the community at the lowest levels so that hospitalisations and deaths can be reduced. The ICMR study too seemed to endorse the overall strategy followed by it so far.

Flip side to low prevalence

But the study, conducted in December showed that disease prevalence at 11.6 per cent at just half of that (21 per cent) at the national level. While this is good by itself and reflects the success of the state’s containment strategy, the flipside is that it leaves almost 80 per cent of the population vulnerable to the virus.

There is a need to keep the transmission down till the general public can be covered by vaccination, the Chief Minister said. If the State was now reporting more cases, it was because it had the system and facility to track and report all cases. There was hardly any fudging of numbers as alleged, he claimed.

No fudging of numbers, says CM

Meanwhile, the government has issued an order conveying to all stakeholders its resolve to ramp up the testing through government laboratories to achieve one lakh Covid-19 tests per day, in which 75,000 tests should be RT-PCR. It directed the labs to start a second shift at the earliest not later than seven days.

In line with rollout of this proposal, additional human resources are required for enabling the laboratories to perform with full capacity. Hence, it directed the respective District Medical Officers to facilitate and meet the requirements. Daily average tests had averaged below 50,000 for a long time now.

Testing strategy being revised

On Wednesday, the government also issued orders revising the testing strategy in view of the changed epidemiology of the disease. Per this, all asymptomatic but vulnerable persons in clusters – elderly, pregnant women, co-morbid cases – will be individually tested using RT-PCR kits.

All symptomatic travellers from outside and on quarantine as well as all asymptomatic contacts of lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 will also be tested using RT-PCR. Symptomatic contacts of travellers in last 14 days, and symptomatic health workers and frontline workers will also undergo RT-PCR tests.

As before, all influenza-like and Severe Acute Respiratory Infection cases will be tested using the Rapid Antigen assay. If they test negative despite symptoms, they need to undergo RT-PCR tests as early as possible the same day during when they continue to be symptomatic.

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Published on February 11, 2021
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