It was a pessimistic prognosis Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan gave at the start of his sunset press breifing on Friday. "I don't think it is a good day today," he began. It has been confirmed that 39 more people have COVID-19, the largest number to turn positive in a day in Kerala.
The last high was 28, on March 23. This takes the total number of active cases in Kerala to 164. The number of confirmed cases is 176, but 12 had recovered. "We need to realise the situation is turning serious. We have to be prepared for any eventuality," the Chief Minister said.
He said Kerala was all set to begin rapid tests. Now, it takes at least two days for a sample to be tested. It is said that there are portable coronavirus testing kits that could provide results in less than a hour. The Chief Minister said the expert group of doctors and scientists had already aproved the use of rapid tests and said the state was waiting for the Centre's approval.
Kasaragod once again flares up
The COVID situation in Kerala looks so fluid and unpredictable that the virus spread in Kasaragod, which the Chief Minister the previous day had said was under control, looks to have abruptly flown off the tracks. Of the 39 new confirmed cases, 34 are from Kasaragod.
Still, the Chief Minister maintained that there was no community transmission in Kasaragod. Here is his logic: 25 of the 39 confirmed cases came from Dubai, and 13 got the infection from these patients or are primary contacts. But that leaves one patient, whose source of information is still not clear. Therefore, as it stands, no secondary infections (of people getting infected by primary contacts) have beeen recorded.
There are two cases in Kannur. And Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kollam have recorded one each. Incidentally, Kollam has recorded its first COVID-19 patient. The patient had arrived from Dubai and, according to sources in the Health Department, had promptly isolated himself.
The sources also said cases could flare up in Palakkad when a new set of results are published in the coming days. Palakkad did not record any new cases today.
The Chief Minister did give a hint of what is in store for Kerala.
"What we have seen in the last two days is that those who had tested positive had come into contact with innumerable people, and had travelled to many places in the last two days," Pinarayi Vijayan said. "We are even thinking that in a situation like this it would not help to keep the names of all these people a secret,” he added.
He was especially referring to the Palakkad man who had returned from Umrah and also the Idukki political leader who had tested positive. Earlier, a Kasaragod man had went around violating quarantine protocols and potentially infecting many. However, results till now do not show the man had infected a large number, though he had come into contact with hundreds.
The Chief Minister termed the travels of the Idukki man as "shocking". "Hehad travelled from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram. Thodupuzha, Kattappana, Adimali, Ernakulam, Perumbavoor, Sholayur in Palakkad, Muvattupuzha, Munnar, the list of places he had travelled through is unending. Medical colleges, schools, Secretariat, Legislative Assembly Complex, public institutions, the list of instituions he had visited is also long. He had contacted ministers, MLAs and top bureaucrats," the Chief Minister said.
He had even taken pictures of these travels and shared them on social media, the Chief Minister added. He even said the man's behaviour was unbecoming of a public worker.
Nonetheless, Pinarayi did not seem too worried about the man infecting some top leaders and bureaucrats in Kerala. "We came to know of the man's contacts only after 14 days," he said. 14 is the maximum number of days the virus will take to reveal itself in its host.
The Idukki political leader had visited the Secretariat and the Legislative Complex to meet ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats on March 11. His results came in on March 26, 15 days after his visit.
"Had the results come earlier, before 14 days, we would have asked all of them to observe strict quarantine. But now we have just informed them and have asked them to take care," the Chief Minister said. That the Chief Minister had taken it lightly is a sign that these political leaders and bureaucrats have not exhibited any symptoms during the 'danger period' of 14 days.
1.10 lakh under observation
On Friday, 1,10,229 people are under observation, up from 1,02,000 yesterday. Of this, 1,09,683 were in home quarantine. The remaining 616 are isolated in hospitals. On Friday alone, 122 were admitted to hospitals.
Till now, 5679 samples have been tested and out of this 4448 had shown no traces of Sars-CoV-2.