THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The pandemic might have taken the sheen off the Onam festivities, but it was celebrated with fervour. Now, the state government is concerned that the celebrations, though on a limited scale, might result in a peak of Covid-19 cases in the coming two weeks and formation of Onam clusters.
Echoing the same, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in his daily briefing on Thursday said the next 14 days would be crucial for the state. He also added that caution should become the watchword for people in these days. At the same time, for the fourth consecutive day, the number of recovered patients exceeded active cases in the state.
“A peak in cases is expected. If it happens, it could be attributed to Onam. As part of the celebrations, the markets and public spaces were bustling with people. Hence, chances of people coming into close contact were high. Besides, people from other places/states came to their native places to celebrate Onam. All these might result in an increase in cases. But to confirm the same, we might have to wait for at least 14 days,” said the chief minister.
“It should become the individual responsibility of all to ensure that they didn’t give chances to transmit the virus to others or fall victim to the same. Special attention should be given to senior citizens as, during Onam, they might have come into contact with many persons.” Pinarayi also observed that while shopping centres and malls followed the Covid protocol in a satisfactory manner in general, it was flouted at some places.
He also said the reporting of fewer cases in the past few days was a result of fewer tests, as people were reluctant to visit the testing centres because of Onam. “The festival also had its effect on the number of tests being carried out at private hospitals and labs. The reporting of less number of cases doesn’t mean that one could lower their guard against the virus. The cases will go up once the collection and testing of samples become normal,” said Pinarayi. The state had a test positivity rate (TPR) of above eight per cent in the past two days, while agencies like the World Health Organisation recommend that maintaining the rate below five per cent is desirable, he added. The TPR is a vital mark in assessing the spread of an outbreak and it refers to the number of positive cases per hundred tests.
The CM said though the state didn’t witness a caseload as expected in August, some studies had forecast that cases may peak by October end.
“Since the lifting of lockdown, more than nine lakh people had entered the state. Of the 9,10,684 returnees, 5,62,693 people came from other states, while 3,47,991 were from abroad. Of the returnees, 61.26 percent had come from red zone areas,” said the chief minister.