As cases of coronavirus continue to rise in Kerala, the state government has decided to implement a "cluster care" method to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus, state health minister KK Shailaja said on Saturday.
The minister said testing, treatment and quarantining will be strengthened inside the "clusters" in order to stop the spread of the virus beyond a particular area.
"Those in the clusters must strictly follow the health protocol, including wearing of masks, social distancing, handwash, use of sanitisers etc. We must keep in mind that the clusters are formed just before the community transmission," Ms Shailaja said in a release.
A cluster is formed when there is an "unexpected surge in COVID-19 cases" at a particular area or a region.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on Friday said that community spread had occurred in Poonthura and Pulluvila in Thiruvananthapuram and its nearby places have seen a rapid increase in the number of contact cases.
The health minister said that there are 87 clusters in the state of which 70 are active clusters and 17 are contained clusters.
"Two such clusters have reported community transmission and the people there need to cooperate with the health department to bring those regions from the cluster classification," she said.
Contact tracing of the cluster has started based on the fact that there is at least one case where the source is unknown and more than two unrelated cases in an area.
"It can be a market, hospital, coastal area, an institution, a ward, panchayat or a tribal area. The disease may be reported en masse in people who work or live in that particular area," she said.
She also said the state government and the health department was trying to "break the chain" of transmission from one cluster to another by "thoroughly locking the clusters."
"We need to give more attention to coastal areas. Inside the clusters, local transmission is more than 50 per cent, but outside the clusters it is below 10 per cent. We should prevent clusters forming and the community spread of the infection," Ms Shailaja said.
The health department said that when a cluster is formed, a rapid response team will be set up which will engage in contact tracing and conduct testing on the basis of primary, secondary contacts.
A region will be declassified as a cluster only if it is confirmed that there is no new case within 7 days after the last positive case in that area was detected.
Kerala on Saturday reported 593 fresh COVID-19, of which 364 cases were through contacts.