Explained: Why Kerala's Covid-19 peak is a concern for the rest of India
India on Saturday reported 46,759 new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the most in nearly two months, as cases surged in Kerala after the festival of Onam.
The worrying trend continued in the southern state, which accounted for 70 per cent of the new cases on Saturday. On Friday, it logged 32,801 cases, up from 30,007 on Thursday. On Wednesday, Kerala had recorded 31,445 cases of the infection.
The test positivity rate in Kerala stands at 19.22 per cent, an increase from 18.03 per cent on August 26. On an average, Kerala reported 13,500 cases per day in July and almost 19,500 daily cases in August, as per an analysis of the health bulletin data.
Why the cases are spreading in Kerala?
The main reason for the spread of Covid-19 in Kerala has been attributed to Onam festivities, when the people of the state defied social distancing norms and gathered in huge numbers to celebrate the occasion.
One more reason pointed out by Kerala health minister Veena George is the violation of quarantine rules by people who are recovering at home. The minister said that a study has recently revealed that 35 per cent of people in the state were found to have been infected with the disease from home.
When people are asked by health authorities to quarantine at home, they are expected to isolate themselves from family members as well but that is not happening, she added.
According to the Union health ministry, this trend of spike in Covid-19 cases is likely to continue for a few more days in Kerala.
The worst affected districts in Kerala
Kerala remains one of the top contributors in terms of daily cases and is accounting for more than half of the active Covid cases in the country at present.
The districts of Thrissur, Kozhikode and Ernakulam are severely hit by the resurgent Sars-CoV-2 virus, reporting more than 4,000 cases per million population in the week ending August 25, according to Union health ministry. Malappuram and Kollam are the other worst affected districts.
What the statistics show?
According to the statistical analysis of data done by Hindustan Times, Kerala has reported 561 new cases per million in the past week against a national average of around 25.
When the same calculations are applied to the number of deaths reported due to Covid-19 in the past week, Kerala's numbers see a marginal improvement. The state has been responsible for 35 per cent of all deaths reported across India in the past week - a much lower share than its caseload.
Why the situation is a cause of concern for rest of the country?
The surge in Covid-19 cases in Kerala have been attributed to the laxity shown by people during Onam. With the festival season just around the corner, there is a need for people to keep following Covid appropriate behaviour.
The Union health ministry has been issuing warnings to the people to not let their guards down; it has even added a 30-second pre-call messages on phone advising people to step put of their homes onyl if it's absolutely necessary.
Experts too have cautioned against showing laxity in view of the threat of a third wave of Covid-19.
What the state government in doing?
The Pinarayi Vijayan government has defended its Covid-19 strategy, countering the criticism it received from opposition parties. Apart from bringing back Sunday lockdown, the state government has stepped up the vaccination drive. George said that 70.24 per cent of the eligible population in the state (above 18 years) was vaccinated and out of this 25.3% had got both vaccines.
It has also tightened containment measures, especially in areas with high number of people infected with Covid-19.
The Centre has asked Kerala to impose night curfew to restrict movement of people. The state is expected to take a call on this on Saturday in a review meeting being chaired by the CM.
Centre pitches in
The central government has suggested targeted testing in containment zones and genomic surveillance as the measures to check the spread of the infection in Kerala.
In a letter to the Kerala chief secretary on Friday, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the state has witnessed a sustained and significant transmission of Covid-19 since July.
Bhushan said the Covid containment zones in the state need to be defined with a special focus on the high-transmission clusters.