CPPR Senior Fellow Rijo John comments in a article published in The New Indaian Express on the COVID 19

Image source: The New Indian Express

Is the worst over for Kerala? While that maybe too early to say, though the number of fresh Covid-19 cases  daily has come down in the last few days, the state can be reasonably assured that its major source of infection so far — people who have come from abroad — will cease to be a threat from now on.

It has been 14 days — the reasonable time frame for an infected person to show symptoms — since airports were closed, and only one of eight cases reported on Sunday was imported. However, the threat of community transmission and the possibility of there being more infected cases among Tablighi Jamaat members who attended the Nizamuddin convention still remain.

“Covid-19 cases are stabilising in Kerala, and the number of confirmed case is coming down. We have increased the number of tests and this is helping us,” said Rijo John, health economist and senior fellow at CPPR, a Kochi-based think-tank.

The fresh positive cases in the last three days were: 9, 11 and 8.  Out of the 314 Covid-19 cases, 56 have been cured till now. Another sign that things are improving is the decline in the number of persons under observation. From 1,71,355 people under observation on Saturday, the number came down to 1,58,617 on Sunday – a decline of 12,738 in just one day.

The airports were closed on March 22, which means the 14-day quarantine period has ended on Sunday. Among the eight positive cases reported on Sunday, only one – a Dubai-returnee – was imported while four were those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat convention. 

14-day period not sacrosanct, says expert

John, however, pointed out that the 14-day period is not sacrosanct. “There is no hard and fast rule that a person cannot develop Covid-19 after the 14-day quarantine period. There can still be cases but, yes, it would be an extreme situation,” he said.According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), current estimates indicate that the SARS-CoV-2 could take anywhere between 1 to 14 days to incubate. 

The WHO also says the most common incubation period — the period between contracting the virus and exhibition of symptoms — is about five days.Experts said though Kerala has managed the epidemic very well till now, the situation may change when the lockdown is lifted on April 14.

“When the lockdown is lifted, and the state borders are opened, it will be difficult to manage the situation as trains and inter-state buses will start to operate again. We will then have no control over the large number of people coming in and going out of the state,” said a health official. The best-case scenario will be to continue the lockdown for more days. “Wuhan (the Chinese city where the COVID-19 originated) was locked down for two-and-a-half months to contain the situation. We may also have to take a similar step,” said John.

This article was published in The New Indian Express on April 6, 2020. Click here to read

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