A coastal village in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram has been cordoned off and around 25 commandos have been positioned in that area as testing has shown a spread and spike of COVID-19 cases locally. This, health experts say, is possibly a first evolving cluster in the state, with more than one "super-spreaders" identified.
On Wednesday, in videos that emerged, commandos, ambulances and police vehicles could be seen moving through the different wards in Poonthura village, with announcement blaring through the loudspeakers: "If people are found roaming out unnecessarily, they will be put in ambulances with the help of commandos and taken to quarantine centres".
"A super-spreader is anyone who infects more than six people. In Punthoora, it is the first evolving cluster in Kerala , where multiple super spreaders have been identified", Dr Mohammad Asheel told NDTV, health expert and core member of team dealing with COVID 19 in the state told NDTV.
"Among those who tested positive first was a fish merchant from that area who frequented Tamil Nadu, and sold at a local market, Kumarichanda. Among those who were tested positive eventually as part of contact-tracing, quite a few have links to the market and are residents in the coastal village of Poonthura. The spread has been largely restricted to a few wards in the area," one of the officials, in charge of COVID-19 containment in the district, told NDTV.
A total of 119 samples of the 600 tested in five days are COVID-19 positive in Poonthura village, according to Chief Minister's Office.
A fisherman who tested positive was traced with 120 primary contacts, in addition to which another 150 contacts have also been traced.
The focus is on aggressive testing in that area, according to Kerala Minister Kadakampally Surendran. "Sufficient hospitals beds have been made available, as people testing positive are being immediately moved to hospitals. Aggressive testing is underway in that area. The spread is largely in a few wards of the village. There are six health teams testing in the locality currently. Depending upon availability, this will be increased," the minister said.
In this village, with many families dependent on fishing, no one will be allowed to go to Tamil Nadu or return from there in boats for now. The Coast Guard, Coastal Security and the Marine Enforcement Wing have been instructed to ensure policing at the coast.
Thiruvananthapuram District Collector Navjot Khosa has said that till further notification no fishing activity will be allowed in Thiruvananthapuram. This is to ensure people don't gather in groups.
In Poonthura, all homes are likely to be sanitised on July 10. As entry and exit points have been sealed in the village, 5 kg of rice will be given to each family in three wards, the government said.
On Tuesday, Kerala saw 301 new cases - the single highest spike in a day. 90 of these infections are through contacts - a data which has been seeing a steady increase in the state, according to officials.
Of the 90 cases through contact, a majority of the cases were from Thiruvananthapuram with 60 positive cases, mostly from Poonthura area. The state capital had 64 new cases on Tuesday.