16k cases in Kerala as Covid spike continues
Kerala reported 16,148 new cases of the coronavirus disease on Saturday – the highest single-day increase in infections in over a month – as outbreak continued to expand again in the state which is currently India’s biggest Covid-19 hot spot.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the high volume of cases coming out of the state is a matter of concern and emphasised the need for more vigil and surveillance.
The test positivity rate – the proportion of samples that return positive for Covid-19 – remains the highest among India’s populous states. On Saturday, the positivity rate in the state was 10.8%. On average, 10.3% of all samples tested in the past week in the state have returned positive – nearly five times the national average of 2.1%. Positivity rate is a crucial metric as experts say it shows how widespread the virus is in the community, and when coupled with increasing new cases, it indicates that the virus is spreading fast within the community.
While the second wave of Covid has been receding in most regions in the country over the past two months, Kerala has been witnessing rising infections over the past four weeks, data shows.
The seven-day average of daily infections in the state, which had dropped to 11,357 for the week ended June 27, has now again climbed to 13,409 cases a day in the past week. While this number has dropped more than 90% from peak of second wave across India, it has only fallen 65% in Kerala, data shows. This has resulted in the state becoming the biggest outbreak centre in the country. More than one-third of all infections reported across India in the past week have been in the state.
The CM, however, put up a brave front and reiterated that there is no need of panic as the state’s healthcare system is equipped to deal with the rising cases. “High caseload is due to increased tests. We have set a high testing target and have been moving towards this. Even at the peak of second wave, the state did not utilise 70% of its hospital infrastructure. No oxygen shortage is reported here,” Vijayan said.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed concern over high volume of cases in Kerala and Maharashtra during a meeting with the CMs of six states.
“It is true the state is reporting a lion’s share these days. We hope situation will stabilise by month-end,” said public health expert Dr N M Arun. To be sure, Kerala has performed the best in terms of deaths being reported among those infected with the virus. On average, while 1.5% of all reported cases across India have resulted in deaths, only 0.5% of confirmed Covid patients have died in Kerala.
Central government ministers, however, said that the state wasn’t following a scientific approach, “ Instead of reaping political benefits out of pandemic control measures, it has to go by the guidelines of the Union Government and Indian Council of Medical Research,” said minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan, who is from Kerala.