Local spread shocking, State reports 339 new cases

Multiple clusters and super spreader events in urban areas, CM calls for restraint

COVID-19 is spreading fast across several urban areas in Kerala, resulting in multiple clusters and super spreader events and has begun to show all signs of disease transmission going out of control in the next few days.

Sounding this dire warning, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday that the number of new cases being reported daily had crossed 300 now and it was highly likely that this number could go up significantly again.

On Thursday, the State reported 339 new cases, showing no let up in the exponential increase trend. With 149 recoveries reported, the number of active cases now undergoing treatment in hospitals across districts is 2,795.

Of the 6,534 cases reported till date, 3,341 persons have recovered.

If till now, imported cases of infection diagnosed in people coming into the State from abroad and other parts of the country constituted the chunk of the total new cases reported daily, the trend is all set to reverse, going by the pace at which local disease transmission has been happening.

On Thursday, while 191 out of the 339 new cases were imported cases, the number of cases which occurred through local transmission was 148. This includes four cases reported in health-care workers, one Border Security Force jawan in Thrissur, a Defence Security Corps jawan in Kannur and two personnel of Indo-Tibetan Border Police in Alappuzha.

The number of tests done in the last 24 hours was 12,592. Over 1.85 lakh people are now under quarantine, of whom, 3,261 with symptoms are isolated in hospitals.

The capital district of Thiruvananthapuram accounted for 95 of the new cases reported on Thursday, 92 of which had resulted from local transmission. Of this, 88 cases have been reported at Poonthura, where a super spreader event has been driving the disease transmission, putting the capital city in a situation of triple lockdown.

Mr. Vijayan said that a similar situation now seemed to be evolving at Aryanad, in the district’s suburb. There were other districts such as Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta and Palakkad where the trend was no different.

He said the current situation warranted the imposition of stricter controls across the State on the movement of people, so that further super spreader incidents which may lead to increased community transmission may be avoided. And it does not take long for one such event to spread the disease far and wide, he said.

World over, it is such super spreader events — one individual transmits the infection to a large number of people — which have played a huge role in SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission.

Research on actual cases reported has shown that between 10% and 20% of infected people are responsible for over 80% of the cases.

The Chief Minister appealed to be people to be sensible enough to understand that the stringent restrictions were meant for the safety of everyone and that none were safe from the virus.

Hence, people should exercise immense self-control and do not venture out of homes except for dire necessities. There cannot be a situation of people crowding anywhere because one infected person in a crowd can rapidly transmit the disease to everyone, he said.

The total number of hotspots in the State now is 181.

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