COVID PANDEMIC ON THE RISE
New guidelines of Kerala Epidemic Disease COVID-19 was issued by the state government on 3 July 2020 in the backdrop of rise of the pandemic in the state. More stringent powers were given to the law enforcement officers. Violations of the social code for preventing the spread of virus, would be punishable with a fine up to Rs.10,000. The state government declared that if a person spits in the public, refuses to wear a mask or fails to maintain a minimum physical distance of six feet or 1.8 metre while going out of their homes would be violations of the social code in the state. The new regulation would remain in force for one year or until notified otherwise. Processions, dharnas, demonstrations, public meetings, social gatherings would require prior written permission from the authorities.
NEW GUIDELINES The marriage functions not to be attended by more than 50 persons. Funeral functions are restricted to 20 persons. Limit the number of persons in stores and super markets considering the floor space of the shop. The number of people in a shop should not exceed 20 at a time. Registration in Covid-19 Jagratha e-platforms would be mandatory to enter Kerala from outside the state.
TRIPLE LOCKDOWN IN THE CAPITAL
The new regulations were issued to give more powers to Police Officers and District Collectors to punish the violators in the wake of Triple Lockdown to be imposed in the capital city Thiruvananthapuram from 6 July 2020, for one week as the pandemic recorded a rise through social contact. The capital city would witness stringent triple lockdown in coming days blocking all roads except a single entry and exit point as done earlier in Kannur and Kasargod.
Kerala reported 225 new Covid cases on Sunday, 5th July 2020 marking cumulative cases of 5429 in the state. Of the new cases 51 are cases of local transmission and the rest are persons reached from abroad and other states. The local transmission in Thiruvananthapuram and Cochin are very serious considering the spread of the virus. Though the state reported 126 recovery cases, the 51 cases of local transmission in which most of the source of infections are unknown includes seven DSC Jawans and two CISF jawans in Kannur and two BSF jawans in Trichur. Almost all the 14 districts recorded steep rises in Covid cases and despite all warnings and actions, the customers in shops and supermarkets and other trading points in Cities are on the rise since the Unlock Phase 2 in the state. In Kozhikode Corporation, licences of over 40 shops had been suspended for not following the directives of Health officials. At Valiyangadi, the wholesale market in Kozhikode, one trader tested positive for Covid-19 kept an alarm and surveillance measures were taken to monitor the drivers, labourers who undertake loading and unloading activities in the market.
MORE INFECTED IN THE APARTMENT
Eleven residents of an Apartment in Kozhikode have been tested positive and it is suspected that they have contracted the infection from a security guard who had ended his life last week. Restrictions were imposed in the wake of spurt in cases and issued orders to avoid crowding to avert a possible community spread in the city. Areas such as Central Market, Valiyangadi, Beach, S M Street will be put on alert and public transport and movement will be restricted. Movement of vehicles carrying goods will be issued tokens to monitor and contain the spread of virus.
CHAMBAKKARA MARKET IN ERNAKULAM
The situation was not different in Cochin Corporation and nearby satellite towns. Chambakkara market is a wholesale fish market that operates between 2 am to 6 am by wholesale traders followed by the retail buyers between 6 am and 9 am. Now the trader’s community and the Health authorities of the Kochi Corporation decided that the market would be opened with strict instructions that people would be allowed to enter the market in groups of 50 and each group will be allowed 30 minutes time only and should give space for the next batch. All businessmen will be given passes to monitor the movements following strict social guidelines. Address and contact details of all are to be maintained before entering the market. In Varapuzha market, Fish auction was called off and crowd control measures were intensified by the Panchayath authorities. Customers from all over the district visit this market and more fish vendors depend on this market. After attending a meeting at Cochin, Minister for Agriculture, V.S. Sunil Kumar said: ‘’ We are not thinking in terms of a triple lockdown now; the situation would be watched closely in the coming two days’’
HEALTH MINISTRY’S NEW STRATEGY
TEST-TRACK-TREAT must be the key strategy for early detection and containment of the pandemic. The strategy was taken by the Union Health Ministry and guidelines were forwarded to all states and union territories to allow all medical practitioners to prescribe the Covid-19 test. Some of the states and union territories have mandated the prescription only from government doctors to undertake Covid-19 Test. Now, considering the speedy spread of the pandemic, all qualified medical practitioners including private doctors were allowed to prescribe Covid-19 Test as per guidelines issued by ICMR.
In order to increase the testing facilities, ICMR has approved 1049 Laboratories in this country. There are 761 Labs in the public sector and 288 Labs in the private sector. Moreover Labs are permitted to test any individual in accordance with the guidelines of ICMR.
PCR AND RAPID TESTS
The Central Government has directed all States and Union Territories to increase the Covid-19 Tests in a big way by using the Rapid Antigen test in addition to the RT-PCR. The government directs the states that the Rapid antigen test is quick, simple, safe and can be used in containment zones as well as in hospitals as per the ICMR guidelines. The Health Ministry informed that as on 2nd July altogether 90,56,173 tests have been conducted so far and will be increased immediately. The highest single day case of Covid-19 reported as 24248 with 425 deaths marking the total Covid-19 cases as 7 lakh and death toll as 19693 on 6 July,2020.
Adopting more testing strategies using the Rapid Antigen Kits and the PCR tests will help to reduce the infection transmission rate far below as suggested by the World Health Organisation.