Lockdown breaches put Kerala under COVID-19 spike risk

Lockdown and quarantine violations put Kerala under risk of COVID-19 spike through local contact

Kerala health authorities were confident that even if a large number returnees from other states and abroad were infected, a further spread through local contact could be curbed by effectively by quarantining the returnees. (PTI Photo)

With over 65,000 instances of lockdown violations reported in Kerala over the last four weeks and around 500 instances of quarantine violations in around two weeks, the state health authorities are worried if this trend will lead to a high risk of a spike in COVID-19 infections through local contact.

Having contained all COVID-19 cases reported within the state till the first week of May, the state health authorities were confident that even if a large number returnees from other states and abroad were infected, a further spread through local contact could be curbed by effectively by quarantining the returnees.

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However, at least 80 people so far got infected through local contacts after the return of people, which makes over 10 percent of the 712 COVID-19 cases reported in Kerala, after May 4. During the initial phases of COVID-19 spike in Kerala, till the aforementioned date, around 30 percent people got infected through local contact.

Kerala Health department Nodal officer Dr Amar Fettle said that violation of quarantine and lockdown norms by one single person poses the risk of spreading the infection to many. Despite massive awareness, people still tend to take it lightly, which is very unfortunate. The best way of fighting COVID is the self-protection by each and every individual from getting infected by wearing masks and maintaining hygiene.

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Though concerns were raised that the preference is given by the Kerala government for home-quarantine rather than institutional-quarantine poses a high risk of quarantine violations, health experts cite that home-quarantine can be enforced more effectively than institutional-quarantine, especially with regard to surveillance and for ensuring the mental health of the quarantined. Moreover, institutional quarantine of a large number of people returning from abroad also poses infrastructure and manpower challenges.

Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases, deaths on May 31

Dr B Ekbal, who heads an expert committee of the Kerala government on COVID-19, told DH that Kerala was quite successful in effective home-quarantining during the initial phases. Even now, 500 odd home quarantine violations were found when over one lakh people were kept under home quarantine. Hence, it could not be projected against the home quarantine system.

In order to curb home-quarantine violations, the Kerala police also launched surprise checks at houses apart from the tight surveillance by local-level health workers and vigil committees of local residents.

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