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Covid-19 in Kerala: High case load no bar to jump protocol

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on October 06, 2020

Monday alone saw 1,809 arrests State-wide for violation of Covid-19 protocols including in containment zones

Covid-19 cases are rising exponentially in Kerala with a mounting death toll, though comparably lower than elsewhere, but that has not prevented a large number of its ‘literate and aware’ citizens from brazenly flouting basic protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

This is evident from the number of arrests being recorded by the police from across the State, a trend that does not seem to have been reversed even after enforcing Section 144 from October 3 till the month-end with a view to controlling the viral spread that has now obliterated cluster-specific divides.

Total cases cross 2.5 lakh

Monday alone saw 1,809 arrests State-wide for violation of Covid-19 protocols including in containment zones. This apart, 29 cases were registered for violating Section 144 provisions and 86 arrests were made. This was in line with the general trend from October 3.

The grave situation is reflected in the latest numbers made available on Monday. The total confirmed cases were at 2.35 lakh; the number people under observation on the day were 2.58 lakh with 2.28 lakh being under home or institutional quarantine and 30,504 in hospitals.

As on date, 1.49 lakh had recovered from the infection while 84,873 patients are still undergoing treatment for the disease. The number of samples tested on Monday had drastically come down to 38,696 largely due to a flash strike by doctors and paramedics, which has been since sorted out.

Study reveals violations

Meanwhile, a study by Global Institute of Public Health, Thiruvananthapuram, has revealed that at least 20 per cent of 4,500 people surveyed across were not protected, either because they did not wear a mask or did not wear it in the proper manner.

As much as 96 per cent of the subjects did wear masks but 16 per cent did not take care to cover the nose or mouth. Proper mask use was most prevalent in Malappuram district (85.8 per cent), which is a coincidentally a ‘high zone’ (cumulative caseload of over 8,000 till August 28).

Thiruvananthapuram, also a high zone, reported mask use of 85.5 per cent, while Idukki (‘low zone’ district with cumulative caseload of less than 4,000) had the lowest mask use at 62.4 per cent. Ernakulam and Kozhikode recorded 82.9 per cent and 79.7 per cent mask use, respectively.

Photo-epidemiology at work

Conducted between August 28 and September 5, the study used the method of photo-epidemiology with over 1,400 photographs taken in public spaces, hospitals and at indoor gatherings capturing 6,208 people. Around 4,500 people clearly visible were used for analysis.

The average number of people per photo frame was used as a proxy for physical distancing, which revealed that crowding was higher in the ‘high zone’ districts of Malappuram and Thiruvananthapuram. This could have led to higher case load despite high mask use.

“Eighty per cent proper mask use is not bad but it is not enough since Kerala is a densely populated State,” says SS Lal, Head, Public Health, Global Institute of Public Health. But he pointed out that no point-to-point comparison is available with other States.

Published on October 06, 2020

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