Last week, when 105-year-old Asma Beevi from Kollam was discharged from a Covid-19 treatment centre, she became the oldest person in Kerala to recover from the disease that has claimed thousands of elderly lives across the world. The happy occasion, however, was also marked by anxiety in the state that reported India’s first coronavirus case six months ago.
From January 30, when Kerala’s Health Minister K. K. Shailaja confirmed that a medical student who had returned from China’s Wuhan had tested positive, until the end of May, the state had managed to keep its case tally at manageable levels, reporting around 10,000 cases in all. But in just two weeks after that, the tally doubled to 20,000, and currently stands at close to 30,000.
While the death rate is still low, the disease has been rapidly spreading in several parts of the state, especially in the coastal regions. There has also been a significant rise in cases of local transmission with no epidemiological links.
The state’s health department estimates that at least 75,000 more people may get infected over the next two months, putting severe pressure on the hospital system. While Kerala is better placed than most other states in terms of its public health system, policymakers are worried that it could buckle under the expected surge of cases.
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Pramod Kumar, public health activist and former senior advisor with United Nations Development Programme, said that the numbers in Kerala began surging after people began arriving from outside once the lockdown restrictions were lifted.
“The state failed to ensure...