The Kerala Health Department has begun contact tracing of more than 100 people who travelled from Kerala and tested positive for coronavirus in other states. This comes after data released by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed that 109 Keralites who travelled to other states have been diagnosed with COVID-19. According to this data, a number of such cases have been reported in Tamil Nadu.
Dr Amar Fettle, state nodal officer for COVID-19, told TNM that the contact tracing of these 109 individuals has begun and that the same process to trace the contacts of those who tested positive in the state, is being followed.
The health department has asked officials to collect district-wise details of those who come in the list. Kerala has also asked other state governments for the details of such positive cases reported in their respective states.
Though it is feared that the NCDC data can be an indication of community spread in the state, health officials said that it is not ideal to come to such a conclusion without a thorough investigation of these positive cases.
â€śWhen there is an infection spread from a cluster, it cannot be said that there is community spread. For example, if 15 to 20 people contract the disease from a hospital, either for not wearing PPE (personal protection equipment) or not following other protocols, we call them cluster cases and not community spread,â€ť a source in the health department told TNM, adding that it is too early to link NCDCâ€™s data with community spread.
â€śCommunity spread happens when the infection is widely transmitted from unknown sources. Regarding the cluster cases in Kerala, we have been able to effectively contain the further spread,â€ť the health department source said.
According to this official, the infection could be transmitted even while the person is travelling to other states. â€śWe have to find out if those who tested positive were living with any other members before they left Kerala. We need several details for an epidemiological assessment of those cases.â€ť the source explained, adding that the officials are preparing for a community spread, as warned by Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, too, had earlier warned that the COVID-19 situation in the state was becoming grave.
Dr Amar, however, said that not all people in the list were staying in Kerala prior to tested positive in other states.
â€śWe have been collecting some details and so far, it has been found that some people had not visited the state in the last six months. Their permanent address must be somewhere in Kerala and while being tested, they might have given this address to the hospitals in the states concerned," said Dr Amar.