Ernakulam: Kerala chief secretary Vishwas Mehta's driver include the 339 new patients identified on Thursday. The chief secretary has tested negative. Worryingly, the transmission of the virus through local contacts is surging, which could result in tougher restrictions, said Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
A total of 133 patients were infected through local transmission on Thursday. Other patients include 117 returnees from overseas and 74 returnees from other states. The figures were announced by Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a briefing to reporters.
As recently a month ago, the bulk of Kerala's fresh patients were returnees from international and interstate traffic, and the local transmission was close to single digits. The surge in local transmission risk to break the state's decent track record in controlling infections and minimising deaths, said Vijayan.
"We have entered into the most serious phase of covid-19. Earlier, we were at the risk of community spread. Now, we are moving in that direction apace," said Vijayan, in Malayalam.
In the first for the state, the chief minister also said that a "super spread" has happened in Poonthura, a coastal village in the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram. About 500 police officers, including a platoon of commandos, are deployed to enforce shutdown in Poonthura, said Vijayan. The police has distributed nearly one lakh masks for free in the region, he added.
The capital has the most patients in the state, and was shut down for a week since Monday. On Thursday alone, the city recorded 95 fresh patients.
"A spread from a fishing market has caused the shut down of the entire capital. Today's results show that the disease has spread across the city. The worry is not over for other cities. Kochi is facing a similarly tough situation. At any moment we might have to move to shut down Kochi," Vijayan said.
In another worry, the contact list of the latest fresh patients are really large, said the CM. Kerala's successfully flattening of a previous surge in infections was largely credited with the quick tracing and quarantining of the immediate contacts of fresh patients.
"We should only go out only for emergency travels. We cannot allow large gatherings for any means. Some people who participated in protests were reported to have the disease. This has made it tough for those who are doing contact tracing," said Vijayan.
Kerala has 6,534 total confirmed cases so far, and 2,795 are active cases. There are 1,85,960 people under observation, and 3,261 of them in hospitals including 471 admitted on Thursday. Altogether, the state has tested 3,07,119 samples so far. It has 181 hotspots.