Health secretary writes to Kerala govt over Covid surge
As Covid-19 cases continue to surge in Kerala, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Friday sent another letter to the state government, expressing serious concern over the situation and listed immediate measures to contain the surge.
In the letter addressed to Kerala chief secretary VP Joy, Bhushan said the state will have to ramp up its containment measures on priority basis and increase tests considerably to check high transmission. All 14 districts have reported high test positivity rate in the past four weeks and the state continues to report more than half of the total cases of the country, he pointed out in the letter.
The health secretary also asked the state to strictly go by the norms of the Union government on high transmission clusters and strengthen contact tracing measures. All district administrations will have to comply with the accepted norms of home quarantine and there should be an intensive follow up on such cases. Covid-19 appropriate behaviour should be enforced at any cost and mass gathering should be avoided, Bhushan said in the letter.
The state has also been asked to enhance genomic surveillance in areas of high transmission and samples of all breakthrough infections (those getting infected after taking both doses) should be sent for detailed genome sequencing tests. He also asked the state to streamline vaccine policy and devise an action plan for each district. “I would like to reiterate that any laxity in ensuring the five-fold strategy of ‘test, track, treat, vaccinate and ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour’ may result in further surge in the state,” Bhushan said in the letter.
Kerala, for the third consecutive day, reported more than 30,000 cases on Friday, about 65% of total cases reported in the country. On Friday, the state reported 32,801 cases with a high test positivity rate (TPR) of 19.22% after 170,703 samples were tested. It also reported 179 fatalities, taking death toll to 20,313 in the state. Active cases also increased to 195,254, said the state health ministry. More than 3,000 new cases were reported in four districts, including Malappuram 4,032, Thrissur 3,953, Ernakulam 3,627 and Kozhikode 3,362.
Kerala health minister Veena Geroge was not available for comments. But a senior health department official said the state has been following these norms after the visit of the central team in the first week of August. Union health minister M Mandaviya also visited the state on August 16 and held detailed talks with chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party have criticised the state’s virus containment strategy and held the CM responsible for the sorry state of affairs.