Kerala Stateâ€™s Police Chief Loknath Behera has declared that state police will hand over the charge of contact tracing of COVID-19 patients, back to the health department in a phased manner. The state police were assigned the task by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in August last year after COVID-19 cases witnessed a rapid rise in the state.
As per the order, the decision was taken as COVID-19 cases in Kerala were showing a declining trend. â€śYou are directed to reduce the contact tracing deployment by the police department in a phased manner and handover the same to the health department in the due course,â€ť states the order issued to District Police Chiefs and Commissioners.
The contact tracing method of Kerala police had kicked up a small controversy, with Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala demanding that call data records of COVID-19 patients should not be collected. But the Kerala High Court rejected Ramesh Chennithalaâ€™s plea demanding the same, saying police officials can collect the same, as long as it is confined to tower locations of the patients. The state government had also stated that no third parties will have access to the collected call data record.
Before August, it was the Health Inspectors who were collecting required data to trace those who had come in contact with COVID-19 patients. But to make contact tracing quicker, the CM had directed police officials to trace out primary and secondary contacts within 24 hours after one is tested positive for coronavirus.
Though the police were preoccupied with marking containment zones, the order has not made clear if this will be continued or not. The state currently has the highest number of active cases in the country.
Notably, the state only had 11,505 active COVID-19 cases back in August. But as of January 9 2021, Kerala has over 64,000 active cases.