Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said community spread of Covid-19 has begun along the coastal belt of the state capital — in Pulluvila and Poonthura regions of the district.
The CM said a complete lockdown would be in force in the affected coastal areas from Saturday, with the affected zones brought under police control.
This comes on a day the pandemic situation grew grimmer elsewhere in the state, with clusters of cases developing in urban centres, markets, coastal villages and camps of uniformed forces, the state government said.
The state’s case count went up to 11,066 on Friday, with 54 per cent of them active cases. The graph of active cases has overtaken that of the cured ones for first time since mid-April.
After Friday’s review meeting, Vijayan said the coastal areas of Thiruvananthapuram is facing a grave situation. “Community spread has happened at Pulluvila and Poonthura coastal regions. The infection is spreading very fast in the coastal belt…. In Kerala, also we are entering into a new phase of infection.”
He said six senior IAS officials have been appointed as incident commanders in the region. Movement of people to and from the coastal region would be completely banned, he added.
Vijayan said that 84 community clusters have emerged in the state, 10 of them large clusters. “We are trying to contain the spread of the disease with a clear cluster containment strategy. Lockdown have been put in place in all clusters and areas where clusters are likely to come up,’’ he said.
Among the state’s 14 districts, the most bogged down by caseload is Thiruvananthapuram, where 80 per cent of the total cases are now attributed to local transmission. This, officials said, was largely reported in coastal suburban fishing hamlets and a few other villages. In the city, a market and a shopping centre have also emerged as clusters.
On Friday, out of 246 cases reported in Thiruvananthapuram district, 237 were attributed to local transmission.
With daily cases hovering at 700-plus for the last two days, and apprehensions that they are set to rise, the government is temporarily putting up more first-line Covid treatment centres. These centres are meant for treating asymptomatic patients and those with mild symptoms.
Since such temporary hospitals are planned in all panchayats, the state plans to ensure 50,000 beds at first-line treatment centres.
Until two weeks ago, the state’s Covid-19 cases were reported mainly from among people travelled from other parts of the country, as well as expats returning from abroad. Among them, there have been local transmission cases in single digit, but the situation, officials said, grew worse as clusters associated with markets and coastal areas developed in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram.
Besides, the ITBP camp in Alappuzha and the CISF camp in Kannur also reported over a hundred each cases. The share of local contact cases to total cases has grown to 35 per cent from 11 per cent in early July.