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Covid-19: Kerala in alert mode amid no new confirmed cases

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 12, 2020 Published on March 12, 2020

Kerala has extended a relief rally on the Covid-19 front with no new confirmed cases being reported from Wednesday, though results are awaited from the clustering impact in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts.

The condition of two elderly members of a family who contracted the virus from kin who had arrived from Italy, has show signs of improvement in the ICU at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kottayam.

More admissions expected

Meanwhile, the health of the 28 people admitted with suspected symptoms in Pathanamthitta is satisfactory, according to District Collector PB Nooh. Of this, seven have already been declared positive cases. Given the elevated level of primary contact with the carrier family, a few more are expected to report in with symptoms. Of the 11 samples tested on Thursday, five were negative. Seven more results were expected into the evening.

The route map and patient flow chart prepared painstakingly with the help of volunteers/activists have elicited 100 calls in, all on dedicated lines, based on doubts that they might have come into primary/secondary contacts with the virus carriers. The Collector was of the view that there was no need yet to close down offices/institutions/shops suspected to have been visited by the family.

The family that landed at the CIAL airport in Kochi had reportedly evaded screening at the health counter and headed straight to the immigration counter, and travelled home to Pathanamthitta and then Kottayam, setting off an infection spiral. This was even as Kerala was recovering smartly from the first three known cases, in January and February. Also the country’s first known cases, they had recovered fully and were sent home.

Two sample results from Pathanamthitta proved negative on Thursday. They belong to the 165 people identified in the high-risk category, having come into direct contact with members of the carrier family. The results of 12 more are awaited, while 27 others are in isolation wards in various hospitals.

Monitoring quarantines

In Kottayam, seven samples tested negative on Thursday. In all, 54 samples were sent out from the district for testing, of which only two tested positive while 34 were negative. The results of 15 samples are awaited. The health of those under home quarantine is regularly monitored. The district administration has identified 74 primary contacts of the carrier family and 309 secondary contacts. News reaching here from Kozhikode said that 10 of the 19 kept in isolation in various hospitals there proved negative as on Wednesday.

The global pandemic may have stretched its storied public health system to the limits, but no other State is tracking the deadly with as much alacrity. It is the latest happenings in Pathanamthitta that had prompted the department to use technology to track down the places visited by the carrier family right from February 29, when it landed in Kochi.

Using tech to track contacts

The department had come out on Tuesday with a patient flow chart after tracking the road taken by the family in Kochi to Pathanamthitta, the places of visit including the houses of kin, supermarkets, shops, hospitals and names of buses travelled, projecting the approximate day and time. The flow chart was updated on Wednesday.

Separately, the Pathanamthitta district administration has introduced GPS technology to track down quarantines at home in different parts of the district. Two teams comprising 30 members each will observe the 733 persons under home quarantine, collect information and suggest treatment directions. Both teams are stationed at the collectorate conference hall and will ensure that none of the quarantined stray outdoors.

Chinese experiment with tech

Last month, the Covid-19 epicentre of China had enforced what was billed as the world’s largest quarantine to contain the outbreak by adapting and co-opting industrial drones to help ensure that an estimated 50 million residents were kept at home and indoors across a dozen of its cities.

The software flying the drones made in Shenzhen was rewritten to adapt their applications for disease detection and crowd management. They used thermal sensors, high-definition zoom lenses, loudspeakers and chemical spray jets for disinfecting large areas. Loudspeakers called out to terrified and unsuspecting members of the public found breaking rules put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Videos released by Chinese state media outlets had shown a drone’s-eye-view of confrontations between citizens and the unmanned aircraft.

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Published on March 12, 2020
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