Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala recorded its second COVID-19 death on Tuesday. Thiruvananthapuram resident and retired police personnel Abdul Azeez, 68, died at the Government Medical College Hospital here after suffering cardiac arrest and paralysis attack while on the ventilator system. He was a COVID-19 patient and had been on life support for the past few days.
Health authorities considered Azeez to be a “complicated patient”. His infection has troubled authorities in two ways. One, it is not clear how he had contracted the disease. He had no recent history of foreign travel and, according to close relatives, had not come into contact with infected persons.
However, tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran had said on March 30 that there was unverified information that Azeez had come into contact with persons from high-risk areas like Kasaragod, and Dubai.
The second factor is the more frustrating aspect. Since Azeez's condition was highly critical, health authorities were unable to secure from him any information about his travels in the days before he developed symptoms. The flowchart they had put out is based on inputs given by close relatives, associates and friends.
Even this flowchart reveals that Azeez was highly active during the days before he was admitted. Since March 2, Azeez had attended weddings, funerals, mass prayers in masjids, auctions in places around Venjarammood and had even travelled in KSRTC buses to Thiruvananthapuram to collect his pension.
It was on March 18 that he developed the first symptoms. So given that the virus's maximum incubation period (the time between the infection and the appearance of first symptoms) is 14 days, the district administration is focused on identifying people he had come into close contact since March 4. But after an active day on March 2, close relatives said Azeez was at home for three days, till March 5. So, the search is on for people he had come into contact from March 6.
On March 2, he had travelled to the sub-treasury near Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram in a KSRTC bus. On that very day, he had also attended a wedding (Ariyottukonam Rajashree auditorium) and funeral (Nagaroor Manzil Kabaaradi). It is said the people he had come into contact with on that day would in all likelihood be safe, as it was outside the infection period.
After supposedly remaining at home for three days, he went out to attend prayers at Varambalam Juma Masjid on March 6. On March 11, he was at Nagaroor Manzil Kabaaradi for another funeral. On March 13, he attended prayers at Varambalam Juma Masjid. On March 17, a day before he developed symptoms, Azeez had taken part in a chitty auction at Ayiroopara Farmers' Service Cooperative bank.
Next day, the day he developed symptoms, he had attended a funeral at Mohanapuram, near Koythoorkonam Masjid. He returned home riding pillion on the scooter of a relative. (The man is now in isolation). By around 2.45 p.m., feeling feverish, Azeez made a visit to the primary health centre in Thonnakkal.
Even after that, on March 20, he had attended a funeral at Varambalam Kabradi. The next day, when symptoms intensified, Azeez made a second visit to the PHC. A day later, on March 23, he was taken straight to the casualty wing of Gokulam Medical College, Venjarammood, from where he was quickly referred to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.
Doctors and paramedical staff who had attended to him (13 at Gokulam medical college and 12 at Thiruvananthapuram Medical College) have been told to observe strict quarantine.
The district administration has now ramped up the 'contact tracing' efforts. Even in the days, he was at home, Azeez is said to have had contacts with people outside. He had a small tapioca farm and locals used to regularly visit his farm to buy tapioca. The buyers had been identified.
It is also said the deceased used to frequent a tea stall that used to be a meeting point for many local residents in the locality. He stayed with his daughter, who is a bus conductor, which again has raised some alarm. The daughter has been in quarantine for some time.
Kerala's first COVID-19 death was reported from Kochi on March 28. Ernakulam resident 69-year-old Yakub Hussain Sait died at the Ernakulam Medical College.