Amid alarming Covid-19 surge, Kerala mulls opening of schools
In the midst of a fresh spike with 32,907 new Coronavirus infections, Kerala is planning to reopen schools and an expert committee will be constituted soon to study the situation. State general education minister V Sivankutty announced this in the capital city adding that experts favoured opening of all schools. The minister’s latest announcement has raised eyebrows in the state.
Kerala reported 32,907 fresh Covid-19 cases on Thursday with a test positivity rate of 18.41% after 174301 samples were tested, said the state health ministry. It also reported 188 deaths taking total fatalities to 21,149. The active caseload also climbed to 2,40,186, and after May this is the first time the active load has crossed 2.40 lakh.
The minister said the experts’ meeting convened by the government on Wednesday favoured re-opening of schools and a final decision would be taken by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after recommendations of the new committee. Earlier, the state government said schools will be reopened only after vaccinating all children but it had second thoughts after neighbouring Tamil Nadu opened its schools. Besides TN, at least six other states have opened schools after cases dipped drastically--- the number of cases has dipped in many parts of the country except Kerala.
“The education department will constitute a panel to study whether the situation in the state is conducive for opening schools. It will also prepare a project detailing which classes can be opened initially. A final decision will be taken by the CM,” he said. In the last two academic years, classes were conducted virtually in the state.
In the experts’ meeting many said since hospitalization has not increased significantly it was a clear indication that the current surge in disease transmission is not out of control. So the state can think of opening up socio-economic sectors. But a section of experts opposed the plan to re-open schools. “This is not the right time. We have no idea how the minister arrived at a conclusion like this,” said public health activist Dr S S Lal, who earlier served with the World Health Organisation.
Experts like him said the current pandemic condition will prevail in the state till mid-September and the government should wait till then. The alarming hike and its consistent prevalence forced many experts to link it with a possible beginning of a third wave. This week the state’s accumulated share of Covid-19 cases was above 70 per cent.
This is the third day in a row that Kerala has been reporting over 30,000 cases. On Monday, new cases came down but it was due to low testing. On Wednesday, it reported 32,803 with a TPR of 18.73 per cent. At least three districts reported over 3000 cases-- Thrissur 4434, Ernakulam 3768 and Kozhikode 3531. Only north Kerala district Kasaragod clocked less than 1000 cases (555), statistics show.