Daily COVD-19 cases in Kerala are on a consistent record-breaking spree since June 19 when the number soared to 118 to beat the peak of 111 that was reached on June 5. From then on, it was a steady rise: 127, 133, and on Monday, 138.
Sars-CoV-2, which seemed too weary to strike in the early days of May, is on an overdrive in Kerala. Initially, the virus took its time. It took 97 days to reach 500 confirmed cases in Kerala. But the next 500 were reached in 22 days. Then it took just eight days to infect the next 500.
And from 1500 to 2000, it took just four days. Then, there was a relative dip in activity. From June 9, it took another seven days to cross 500. There were no 100-plus days in between. But the next 500 got infected in five days.
In the last five days, from June 18, 613 have been infected, at the rate of more than 122 cases a day.
Permeable quarantine walls
Nonetheless, Kerala has been told to keep alarm aside. Top Health Department sources say that over 90 per cent of those who had been declared positive since May 4, when the borders were thrown open and the viral activity picked up, had come from outside, either from abroad or from other states.
On Monday, too, 87 of the 138 new cases had come from abroad and 47 from other states. Four were infected by way of contact.
Everyone coming from outside is quarantined and constantly monitored, and is, therefore, theoretically blocked from having any outside contact.
Fact is, separations that have been erected between the infected and the local community, mostly in the form of room quarantine, are highly porous in certain areas. It is becoming increasingly clear that room quarantine works effectively only if there is a Buddha-like resolve for self denial.
Close relatives of the infected - wives, sons, daughters, grandparents and grandsons - are turning positive.
Quarantine is mostly for the returnees and their families, not for the rest who are desperate to get their lives back on track after the pauperising anti-COVID vaccine called lockdown.
Elephant in the room
With lockdown eased, it appears that people have shed even the pretension of social distancing. This has left the entire community at risk.
If one socially active person - say a staff nurse or an ASHA worker or an autorickshaw driver or an excise official - is randomly declared positive, a hundred others could be potentially at risk.
The autorickshaw driver declared positive in Thiruvananthapuram two days ago is said to have come into close contact with at least 200 people. And the authorities are clueless on how the driver got infected.
By now there are at least 10 cases in six districts - Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kannur, Palakkad and Kollam - that have contracted the virus from a mystery source. Plainly put, they caught the virus from spreaders still roaming around unknown, unsuspected.
So even if the number of positive cases by way of contact is low (not even 10 per cent of the total cases declared after May 4), it is only the visible patch of a mighty epidemic that is almost fully camouflaged.
District-wise breakup of cases:
Two of those who contracted the disease through contact are from Idukki while the remaining two are from Thiruvananthapuram and kottayam districts. The patient in Thiruvananthapuram is a security guard at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital.
In Kottayam, an ASHA worker woman (53) at Ezhachery near Ramapuramcontracted the virus through contact. She had been in home quarantine along with her daughter and grandchild who had returned from Mumbai. Her 34-year-old daughter was tested positive earlier.
The contact cases in Idukki include a six-year-old son of a person who had tested positive in Kattappan on June 19. A 65-year-old native of Bethel has also tested positive. He contracted the virus from his son-in-law who had tested positive in Kattappana on June 19.
Malappuram reported most number of cases. With the 17 cases, the number of active cases in the district rose to 201. Of the new cases, 11 are returnees from abroad and six from other states. With 26 negative cases, Malappuram reported more number of recoveries than positive cases. Palakkad reported 16 cases -- nine from abroad and seven from other states.
Notably, Kannur reported 18 recoveries while there are only three new cases today.
Four new hotspots
Four more wards have been included in the hotspot list. They are: Parappanangadi municipality, Malappuram (Ward number 31), Kattappana municipality, Idukki (ward numbers 5, 8), Rajakumari panchayat, Idukki(ward number 8), Vellangalloor panchayat, Thrissur (ward numbers 14, 15).
At present, the state has 112 hotspots.
Kaluvathukkal gramapanchayat (ward number 23) has been excluded from the hotspots list.