Covid-19 scare in Kerala forces closure of two schools
Almost a week after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan directed the health authorities in Kerala to ramp up daily Covid-19 diagnostic tests to a lakh, with 75 per cent being the relatively time consuming but reliable RT-PCR, test numbers have mostly failed to achieve the scale.
This is attributed to the lack of sufficient number of suitably enabled or equipped labs in the state, independent sources said. The state at best has 71 such labs with none being able to reach the required level of 1,000 tests a day. The best daily they have cumulatively delivered is a little more than 20,000, they said.
Heightened alert in Malappuram
Meanwhile on Monday, a Covid-18 scare from two schools in the Malappuram district in the northern part of the State has prompted health authorities to declare heightened alert. At least 262 persons, including students and teachers, were found to be infected in these schools a couple of days ago.
Sources said the district administration has imposed stringent measures in Ponnani taluk and tightened precautions on all school campuses following infection among a large number of students and teachers at two higher secondary schools. The 262 positive cases reported are from Maranchery and Vannery.
Tuition centre closed down
On Monday, 156 more cases from those who had come into direct contact with these persons were detected. A tuition centre in the district that is thought to have been the hub of the infections has been ordered closed. Authorities are finding out if the infections have spread to neighbouring districts as well.
The State Education Department has ordered a clampdown on the district and put the schools under stringent restrictions. But ongoing sessions for the 10th and 12th classes have been allowed to continue. Teachers have been directed to ensure adequate precautions before starting with the sessions every day.
Likely ‘super spreader’ events
The Department is also mulling the option of engaging teachers at bus stops and other places where students converge to ensure that the Covid-19 protocols are strictly being adhered to. It is also discussing whether testing of both teachers and students can be enhanced given the emerging circumstances.
On Monday, the State as a whole reported 3,742 new cases out of the 47,927 samples tested, providing for a test positivity rate of 7.81 per cent. Sixteen deaths reported the same day have taken the toll to 3,883. This is even as the State witnesses likely ‘super spreader’ events in the run-up to the Assembly elections.
The Opposition and the ruling fronts blame each other for organising these events. While Ramesh Chennithala, Leader of Opposition, is heading an Aishwarya Kerala Yatra from the North to the South of the State, the administration is holding mega adalats for complaint redress, drawing mass participation.