Kochi: The body of the government doctors in Kerala on Tuesday urged the Left government to strictly implement contact tracing and 17 days quarantine for COVID-19 infected persons and impose restrictions in specific micro-containment zones to bring down COVID-19 cases in the southern State.
In its suggestions submitted to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) said the present lockdown strategy should be discontinued taking into account the socio-economic factors and considering the fact that the COVID-19 curve is now in a plateau phase and immunity acquired by almost 55 per cent of State’s population.
The suggestions from the prominent doctors’ body came as the southern State, which accounts for more than half of India’s new COVID-19 cases, is struggling to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus infections.
Noting that the lockdown imposed when the second wave of COVID pandemic was reaching its peak certainly helped in lowering the total caseload and ensured that it’s within the capacity of our system, the association said it served the purpose in that perspective.
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”COVID curve is now in a plateau phase with the number of new cases and cured one’s almost evened-out. Almost 55 per cent of our population might have acquired some degree of immunity also either through vaccination or as a result of clinical/subclinical infection. Considering these and taking socio-economic factors also into account we feel it not advisable to continue with the present lockdown strategy,” said KGMOA, the only service organization representing all categories of doctors in health services in the State.
It said a hassle-free and effective vaccination is the best tool for containing this pandemic.
”Time tested strategy of contact tracing and isolation which ensured an effective control during the first phase must be followed. Contact tracing must be entrusted to local RRT with the help of a workforce from other non-essential services. All positive cases must be quarantined for 17 days. Those with COVID-19 like symptoms must also be quarantined even if tested negative on Antigen testing and RTPCR repeated if the symptom persists,” the organisation said.
It said restrictions should be imposed in specific micro containment zones like wards rather than the whole Panchayat/Municipality/Corporation.
”Present strategy of categorising areas based on TPR alone should be replaced by indicators like Daily Positive Cases per 10,000, Active cases per 10000 along with TPR,” KGMOA said.
It said setting targets and criteria for testing to reduce TPR should be avoided.
”Purpose of testing should be to identify cases rather than creating a false sense of security. So targeted testing of all symptomatics and their contacts must be the rule. More effective surveillance and testing must be done in thickly populated areas like colonies, coastal areas etc,” it said.
The government doctors’ body said proper reporting of fever and ARI cases from private hospitals, clinics, medical stores, laboratories etc must be ensured.
It said marketplaces can be opened strictly ensuring physical distancing and other COVID appropriate behaviour.
”Ten persons per 100 square feet at a particular point of time only must be allowed. Congestion has to be eased out by extending their time of functioning. We would suggest shops selling essential items to be open on all days from 7 AM to 11 PM. Other establishments like textile shops, spare parts shops, workshops etc may be allowed to function on all days from 9 AM to 7 PM,” KGMOA said.
Last week, Kerala had recorded more than 20,000 COVID-19 cases successively for six days, accounting for more than half of the country’s new cases.