COVID Numbers Spike by 225% in Kerala Post Election Season

Smitha TK
·6-min read

Kerala has been reporting over 30,000 coronavirus cases everyday, registering an increase of 255 per cent cases in the last two weeks.

The state's positivity rate on Thursday, crossed an all-time high of 23 per cent with the average for the past one month being 22.55%, causing a lot of worry.

However, the state government has been keeping the situation under control by ramping up the availability of critical care beds, COVID care centres and ample availability of medical oxygen on war footing.

The Quint analyses the spike in COVID cases in Kerala, owing to the extensive election campaigning over the past few months and what the data shows in terms of positivity rate and recovery.

Also Read: Pinarayi Set to Rewrite Kerala Election History After Four Decades

Second Worst Affected State in India

Kerala, which reported India's first COVID patient on 30 January 2020, has over 15 lakh cases, the second highest number of infections in the country after Maharashtra since the start of the pandemic.

Officials told The Quint that the recent spike could be owing to large crowds gathering at vaccination centres, local temple festivals and also because they have started testing more persons than before.

Graph Showing Daily Spike in COVID-19 Cases and Daily Recoveries From November 2020 - April 2021

Data showing spike in COVID positivity rate in April 2021
Data showing spike in COVID positivity rate in April 2021

Several senior doctors have criticised political leaders for encouraging the gathering of masses for rallies and violation of social distancing guidelines during the past five months of campaigning.

Also Read: Amid COVID-19 Surge, Uttarakhand Govt Suspends Char Dham Yatra

The state has also ramped up testing from 37,377 samples on 29 March to 1,57,548 by 29 April in order to ensure early testing and curb the spread of the virus.

Data Showing Persons Tested for COVID Everyday and Positivity Rate from August 2020 - April 2021

Also Read: People are Dying: SC Slams TN for Not Opening Vedanta Oxygen Plant

As on 29 April 2021, Ernakulam has the highest number of confirmed COVID cases with 1,90,051 followed by Kozhikode with 1,84,210 cases, Malappuram with 1,63,656 cases, Thrissur with 1,43,701 cases and Thiruvananthapuram with 1,42,117 cases.

Is Kerala Second-Wave Ready?

While several people in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra are struggling to find medical oxygen for their loved ones, Kerala has set up oxygen war rooms across the state with representatives of police, health, transportation, disaster management and PESO.

Dedicated Oxygen War Rooms will function at state and district levels with representatives of police, health, transportation, disaster management and PESO.
Dedicated Oxygen War Rooms will function at state and district levels with representatives of police, health, transportation, disaster management and PESO.

Kerala has even managed to provide oxygen to other states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Goa. The state has increased its oxygen availability by 58 per cent and has 23 oxygen filling plants, mostly private.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said more restrictions will be imposed in the state from May 4 to 9 to break the chain of transmission.

Data showing coronavirus cases, persons discharged, deaths and recoveries.
Data showing coronavirus cases, persons discharged, deaths and recoveries.

A Comprehensive One-Website-For-All

The Kerala government has an updated comprehensive dashboard and COVID Jagrath portal where people can check details of hospitals, beds available, ICUs with ventilators, non-ICU bed with oxygen supply and other medical supplies. The portal lists date wise and district wise data of the number of persons who are tested and also segregated the positive patients based on the severity of symptoms to give a clear sense of how the spread has been in the state.

Kerala is among the states with the highest registered doctors per 1 lakh population, according to the Medical Council of India.

Triaging COVID Care

The triage system - of demarcating patients into categories A, B and C - has been the backbone of resource allocation in Kerala that begins at the primary health centres and is monitored in the war rooms. The state has been using a standard method of early detection, segregation of persons based on home quarantine, those in need of COVID centres and others who need to be hospitalised. Medical facilities such as certain medicines, oxygen, ventilators and others are being ramped up based on the infrastructure in every district.

Data on patients, beds and the available resources is being updated every four hours at these district level-nerve centres. Even medical oxygen stock will be included in the Covid Jagratha portal soon, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted.

The state-run medical colleges in Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram that are seeing the highest numbers in the state are looking at doubling their ICU beds.

Several private hospitals have extended their wards further for the coronavirus patients, as the state government has asked them to reserve at least 25% of the beds.

Free Vaccines for All

Data Showing District Wise Vaccination in Kerala

District wise data showing persons vaccinated in Kerala as on 29 April 2021
District wise data showing persons vaccinated in Kerala as on 29 April 2021

As on 30 April 2021, 72,29,228 doses of the vaccination were administered in the state. While 60,06,405 people have received the first dose so far, 12,22,823 have been given the second dose.

A separate page on the website lists how the vaccination attempt has been since its launch on 16 January, 2021, listing the different categories -‘Age Appropriate category’ — persons over 60 years of age, persons between 45 and 59 years with co-morbidities, and the general public over 45 years of age.

District wise data showing persons vaccinated in Kerala as on 29 April 2021
District wise data showing persons vaccinated in Kerala as on 29 April 2021

As on 30 April 2021, 1,32,030 doses of Covaxin and 1,41,890 doses of Covishield vaccines are available. There are over 805 COVID vaccination centres.

While the Kerala government has been urging the public to get the COVID-19 vaccine soon and making the two-dose vaccine regimen mandatory to gain access to public events, people above 45 years of age have raised the issue that the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is not available.

Kerala gave prominence to spot registration over the Co-WIN portal, which might have led to confusion. After a surge in people thronging at the centres, the state government has now shut down that option.

The state will purchase 70 lakh doses of Covishield - developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca and produced at the Serum Institute of India, and 30 lakh doses of Covaxin - home grown by Bharat Biotech in partnership with the National Institute of Virology and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - will make up the rest of the order. The government has assured that the vaccination drive will be free for all across the state.

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