Sea wrath worsens Chellanam’s COVID woes

All 21 wards of the panchayat hit by sea incursion; sea wall entirely destroyed in some areas

Chellanam’s existing COVID-related woes were exacerbated by sea incursion and flooding on Friday.

The panchayat had recently reported a spike in COVID cases. K.D. Prasad, Chellanam panchayat president, said that the panchayat had around 470 active COVID cases. Going by daily bulletins from the district administration, Chellanam has reported a total of 131 new cases in the past three days. A health inspector in the area said that wards 1 to 11 of the panchayat had a total of 220 active cases.

The panchayat’s own domiciliary care centre is yet to begin functioning, since it requires more work, Mr. Prasad said. COVID positive patients recovering at home and hit by sea incursion were being shifted to a first-line treatment centre at Kumbalanghi.

One relief camp is functioning at St. Mary’s High School, a second relief camp was set up at St. Xavier’s School, Kandakkadavu, and a third one is being considered at a parish hall in Kannamaly, Mr. Prasad said.

“The primary health centre at Kandakkadavu was submerged in waist-high water. Fire and rescue personnel had to find a way to get the health staff into the centre on Friday morning. We managed to place medicines on higher ground before they were damaged. COVID testing did not take place at the health centre on Friday,” said a health inspector.

“All 21 wards of the panchayat were hit by sea incursion on Friday, in what is possibly the worst such instance we have seen so far,” Mr. Prasad said.

A revenue official said a relief camp had been opened at St. Mary’s High School, though water had started streaming into the school compound as well. “It became difficult for people to enter the camp. In an unprecedented situation, the coastal road was submerged in the morning, making it difficult to arrange transport to shift people. Some residents close to the sea, who are accustomed to regular sea incursion, moved to the homes of relatives on Thursday itself,” the official added.

“The sea wall has entirely been destroyed in some parts. It looks like the sea and the houses have all merged to become one,” said an ASHA worker from Chellanam.

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