After state capital Thiruvananthapuram, the commercial hub of Kochi could go under a triple lockdown as Kerala grapples with a nightmare concerning the Covid-19 pandemic following exponential growth in the number of infected and potential spread through primary and even secondary contacts.

Grim forebodings were apparent during the last few days when the number of infections with unknown sources witnessed an unprecedented rise. In worse-affected Poonthura in coastal Thiruvananthapuram, 119 out of the 600 samples tested during the last five days have tested positive.

Crackdown in Poonthura

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has ordered immediate rearguard action, with all borders of the coastal hamlet, including the sea coast, sealed. Each family of the affected fisherfolk will be given free ration. Commandos of the Special Armed Police (SAP) have been deployed to enforce lockdown guidelines.

State Police Chief Loknath Behera said here that the Coast Guard, Coastal Security, and Marine Enforcement personnel have been put on guard in Poonthura to prevent fishing boats and vessels from going out to/or returning from neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Triple lockdown will be strictly implemented here, he said, adding that 25 commandos have already been deployed in the area under an SAP Commandant. A Deputy Commissioner and an Assistant Commissioner would also join the operations, the State Police Chief said.

Inter-state border sealed

Behera said he has already talked to JK Tripathi, his counterpart in Tamil Nadu, to ensure strict police presence at the inter-state borders and prevent anyone from crossing over to either state. These developments unfolded even as Thiruvananthapuram has entered the third day under triple lockdown.

An infected person in Poonthura, likely a fish vendor, is reported to have infected at least 120 people in the primary contact list and another 150 in the secondary contact list. Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister VS Sunil Kumar and district in-charge said triple lockdown would be declared in Kochi without warning.

This came after 19 cases were identified in hospitals in the commercial hub of Ernakulam on a day when the district administration said that areas reporting increased incidence would be declared as cluster containment zones. All residents in these zones would be subjected to Covid-19 diagnostic tests.

State ramps up testing

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said on Tuesday that a new single-day high of 272 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed in the state in an unprecedented spurt. Only 111 patients tested negative, which is lower than the daily trending numbers in recent times, which, too, is cause for some concern.

Of the 272 new cases diagnosed on Tuesday, 157 were returnees from abroad, 38 had arrived from other states, and 68 were cases of infection through contact. Infections through contact have risen to 13.30 per cent of the total, while imported cases as a ratio stand slightly reduced to 86.70 per cent.

The state has 2.86 lakh samples for testing; has total confirmed cases till the date of 5,894; total active cases of 2,411; full recoveries of 3,452 (58.57 per cent); and a death toll of 27 as of Wednesday. The mortality rate is 0.47 per cent while tests per million have risen to 8,141, probably digging up new infection cases.