THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As Covid-19 pandemic enters the sixth month in the state, public health experts warn that the state could expect a surge in positive cases and death rates. At the same time, it is also being pointed out that the tough challenge for the health department in the days ahead will be the local body poll which is fast approaching. There is a demand to frame guidelines for safely holding and attending events and gatherings before the election campaign gathers momentum.
“The state is known for its high-octane electoral campaign. But in the time of pandemic, a new approach is needed. This should be decided by the respective political parties. The way some parties organise their events and briefings fall under the category of ‘highest risk’ for Covid-19 infection,” said an epidemiologist at a government medical college.He pointed out that it is high time the political parties understood that the more people interact at a gathering, the higher will be the risk of getting infected with Covid-19.
“Take the case of the press conference called by Jose K Mani after the Congress-led United Democratic Front expelled his faction on Monday. He was welcomed by a gathering of supporters who raised slogans supporting him. No one was seen wearing masks including him. There was also no social distancing at the place. The same was repeated on Tuesday also,” added the epidemiologist.
Rajendra Pilankatta of School of Medicine and Public Health, Central University of Kerala, said that people concerned should initiate proactive steps to avoid large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least six feet apart.“This is a critical phase in terms of infection transmission. One thing that makes the state stand apart from others is the less number of severe cases and mortality. A spike in cases is certain because of the returnees. But it should get limited within them. Also, as there are doubts regarding silent transmission, large gatherings of any kind should be banned,” said Rajendra.
‘Spike will continue’
A member of the state medical board for Covid-19 said on condition of anonymity that the cases will spike in June or even get worse and so will the death rate. “More than using facemasks, social distancing has a critical role to play. Thus the state should take up a rigorous campaign and punitive steps to ensure strict adherence to social distancing norms. Testing rate should be enhanced substantially,” he said.