NEW DELHI: A rapidly deteriorating Covid-19 situation in Kerala has prompted the Centre to depute a six-member team to assist the state government but also led to a flurry of theories on why the southern state is seeing such a high number of cases.
Kerala, over the last two days, has reported over 50% of the total Covid-19 cases in India, registering 22,056 new cases on Wednesday and 22,129 cases on Tuesday when overall the country detected less than 44,000 cases on each of the two days.
On Thursday, the Union health ministry announced that a six-member central team, led by the National Centre for Disease Control director SK Singh, is being rushed to the state and will visit a few districts.
The team, said the ministry, will work closely with the state government, take stock of the on-ground situation and recommend necessary public health interventions to contain the large number of cases being reported by the state.
As per the data shared, Kerala with an active caseload of 1.54 lakh is contributing 37.1% of the total active cases in the country, with a growth rate of 1.41% in the last seven days. The average daily cases being reported in the state are above 17,443.
More worryingly, the state has also reported a high case positivity of 12.93% cumulatively and 11.97% weekly while six districts are reporting more than 10% weekly positivity.
The average number of daily new cases reached a low of 11,000 in the last week of June, but has since been rising.
The fourth round of national serosurvey by the ICMR, which tests samples for antibodies against the Covid virus has shown that till the first week of July only about 44.4 % people in Kerala had seropositivity.
Epidemiologist Giridhara R Babu said that this shows that a high number of people in the state are still susceptible to the virus. "Also, since the delta variant is now driving the pandemic, it is spreading faster between people though I feel that with this number of cases, the situation would have been worse off in other states compared to Kerala, given its strong health infrastructure and management of the situation."
He, however, added that while a significant Covid vaccination coverage, easy test availability in all districts, awareness and clinical management were a strength in Kerala, there could be some laxity in actively interrupting the transmission.
"And I am afraid that if the pandemic keeps spreading at the current rate, it could lead to more virus variants," Babu added.
Health economist Rijo M John too stressed that higher detection of cases and low seropositivity, owing to better compliance of lockdown measures earlier are likely to be the reasons for the sustained growth in daily cases.
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