Kerala’s Idukki and Kottayam districts, which had been categorized as green zones with relaxed curbs, have suddenly seen a spurt of 21 coronavirus cases in the last four days.
On Sunday, 11 people from these two districts tested positive, and seven of them got the disease through contact. They include a doctor at a primary health centre in Idukki and two nurses in Kottayam.
A few village panchayats in both districts have now been closed completely after the sudden return of COVID-19, and have been included under the orange zone.
Until last week, Kottayam had only reported three positive cases, all of whom had recovered. Neighbouring Idukki had recorded 10 cases in the second wave of the virus, but had come out of the shadow of virus.
Subsequently, the government had allowed life to return to almost pre-COVID levels of normalcy in these districts, with a ban on inter-district movement.
For some of the cases in Kottayam and Idukki, the Health Department had not been able track down the source of infection. Case in point, a worker in a Kottayam market who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. Five people who have returned from affected districts of Tamil Nadu too have tested positive in Idukki in the last three days.
Adding to this, phenomenon of persons testing positive after completing 28-days of quarantine continues in Kerala. Among such cases was one reported Sunday—a 50-year-old man who had reached Idukki on March 15 from Dubai. In Kottayam, a 55-year-old woman, who reached Kottayam one-and-half months ago from the UAE tested positive on Friday. Similarly, a truck driver who has been under home quarantine since March 25 after returning from Maharashtra also tested positive.
“We can expect a few more similar cases as more people who returned from infected areas abroad would be tested before the end of the current phase of lockdown,’’ a Health Department official said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Sunday directed districts to ramp up the number of tests. He asked them to test even asymptomatic persons and those under quarantine.
Kerala had so far tested only 22,954 samples, of which 468 are positive. As of Sunday, 342 of those people have recovered.