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Renewed Covid spike: Where did Kerala go wrong?

Steady rise in Covid cases over past two weeks puts question mark on containment measures adopted by govt

Published: 08th July 2021 06:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th July 2021 06:15 PM   |  A+A-

International departure passengers at Rapid PCR testing centre at Terminal-3 of Kochi airport.

International departure passengers at Rapid PCR testing centre at Terminal-3 of Kochi airport. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The number of fresh Covid cases in Kerala has been increasing for the past few weeks, raising concerns about the trajectory of the pandemic situation. A steady rise in cases over the past two weeks after a drastic drop since the end of May has also put a question mark on the containment measures adopted by the state. Health experts have cautioned about the compounding effect of the steady rise in the number of patients infected by the virus everyday.

The state on Wednesday reported 15,600 new cases — 14% higher than the previous week. With 148 more Covid deaths being confirmed on the day, the total toll in the state crossed the 14,000-mark. The state tested 1,50,630 samples in the last 24 hours, 20,000 more than the previous day. Yet, the test positivity rate stood at 10.36%. 

Kerala has the highest number of new cases among the states and more TPR than bigger states. Experts said the present situation is prime for further uptick, if not another wave. “Daily cases are likely to touch the 20,000-25,000 mark soon, as the curve is still rising steeply. A large section of the susceptible population and low reach of vaccination have made the situation vulnerable for an increase in cases. The trend was, in fact, evident from the close examination of data from the past two weeks,” said immunologist and public health expert Dr Padmanabha Shenoy.

The dynamic nature of the pandemic calls for a dynamic strategy on the part of the government. The number of tests conducted per day and contact tracing have come down after crossing the peak of the second wave. While most districts have been given fixed targets for testing, the strategy has been criticised as unsuitable to deal with a pandemic situation.

“The spread has increased due to low number of testing and poor contact tracing measures. We have not been able to crush the curve. Instead, the flattening of the curve resulted in the high number of new positive cases and high TPR. The number of people with serious illness has not come down as we expected,” said  Indian Medical Association state secretary Dr Gopikumar P.

Health economist Rijo M John said a TPR above 10% calls for more testing to be done. “By increasing the number of tests, you can always find more cases and isolate them more. It will help in controlling the spread. It is still a mystery why Kerala has high plateauing,” he said.The high plateauing of new Covid cases and TPR in the state has prompted the Union health ministry to send an expert team to monitor the situation. The two-member central team also suggested measures to strengthen contact tracing and quarantining on the first day of their visit on Monday. 

“The plateauing of TPR at 10% is due to the high infectivity of the virus as compared to the plateauing of around 5% in the first wave. It is likely to decrease by the fourth week of July. But we are expecting a third wave by August,” said Dr S S Santhoshkumar, deputy superintendent, Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram.

ALSO WATCH | Kerala's Covid-19 fight: A tale of two waves | TNIE Documentary



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