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Onam drives up Kerala Covid cases again, daily infections increase by almost 30%

While Kerala registered 31,445 cases in the past 24 hours, state officials say there is no need to panic as the high Covid numbers indicate 'flattening' of the Covid curve.

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New Delhi: History seems to be repeating itself in Kerala as the state, which has accounted for the bulk of India’s Covid cases, witnesses yet another spike after the festival Onam, which was celebrated last week.

The southern state, once hailed as the Covid ‘model’, reported 31,445 cases in the last 24 hours, which is an almost 30 per cent increase from the previous day’s daily case count of 24,296. A similar spike in cases was witnessed last year after Onam as well.

While testing has also increased in the state by 22 per cent in two days — to 1,65,273 Tuesday from 1,34,706 Monday — all 14 districts in Kerala currently have test positivity rates (TPR) over 10 per cent. The recommended TPR by the World Health Organization is 5 per cent or less.

The district-wise TPR in Kerala ranges from 22.91 per cent in Thrissur — the district that reported India’s first Covid case in January 2020 — to 10.72 per cent in Kasaragod, which was once considered a model of Covid management.

In comparison, the weekly positivity rate in the country currently stands at 2.02 per cent.

However, despite a spike in cases, the case fatality rate in the state remains 0.5 per cent. The national average, meanwhile, is 1.34 per cent. This means that one in every 200 Covid patients in Kerala is dying while about four people are dying nationally of every 300 patients infected.

Graphic by Soham Sen | ThePrint

Also read: Time running out to study Covid origins, WHO scientists warn as they lay out 6 priorities

‘Flattening the curve’

In the last few weeks, the central government has sent multiple teams to Kerala to take stock of the situation and advise the state government on containment and contact tracing. Health ministry officials have maintained that a lack of contact tracing has caused the surge in the state.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also visited the state to take stock of the Covid situation.

“There are many cases within the same family which means the isolation and other protocols for home containment are not being followed properly. We have told the state government that too,” an official from the health ministry told ThePrint.

According to officials, a large number of post-vaccination infections have also been identified in the state though reliable estimates of statewide numbers are not available.

The state officials, however, maintains that what is happening in Kerala, at present, is the realisation of the goal to flatten the Covid curve.

A senior health official in the state shared a graph that showed how a steep spike may mean a shorter “wave”. Furthermore, he said, when numbers are reported over a longer period, the chances of mortality are less as it ensures health facilities are not overwhelmed.

“This explains why infections and breakthrough infections are currently high in Kerala. Nothing to panic. We all have to stay together and play this endgame also well with caution and absolute scientific temper,” he told ThePrint.

Also read: Forget Covid origin, the new question is when the first coronavirus case was

Vaccination in Kerala

Though the state has been reporting consistently high daily case numbers for several months now, Kerala also has a fairly high vaccination coverage.

Of the total population of 3,54,89,000 (projection for 2021 according to state government data), 1,95,47,235 have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, 70,49,010 people have received both doses, which means nearly 20 per cent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated. At the national level, 10.3 per cent of the population is fully-vaccinated while 35 per cent have received the first dose.

According to state health officials, it is possible to increase the pace of vaccinations even further if the supply picks up. In the last 24 hours, it has administered 3,21,697 doses.

Following Mandaviya’s visit, the central government allowed Kerala to procure 10 lakh doses from the quota for private hospitals through the Kerala Medical Supplies Corporation, a company owned by the state government.

Also read: Unvaccinated people 29 times more likely to be hospitalised with Covid, CDC report finds


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