07 Jul 2021: Kerala reports highest COVID-19 cases; what is the state's plan?
Kerala, the state where the first COVID-19 case in India was confirmed, is again leading the daily surge in infections. On Wednesday, the state accounted for nearly a third of all new coronavirus infections reported across the country. The state government has updated its strategy focusing curbs on areas reporting a high positivity rate. Here's how the state is handling the viral outbreak.
Outbreak: Kerala has reported nearly 30 lakh COVID-19 cases
Kerala is the second worst-hit Indian state in terms of the absolute number of infections (29,96,094), and the eighth worst-hit in terms of the absolute number of fatalities (13,960). The recovery rate in the state is 96% and the fatality rate is 0.46%, thankfully well below the national average of 1.32%. Active cases stand at 1.04 lakh, down from 4.45 lakh in mid-May.
Issues: Kerala added over 14,000 new cases yesterday
While Kerala's health infrastructure is managing to discharge more patients than new cases emerge on most days, it's also reporting the highest number of new cases. Kerala added 14,373 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours—a 26-day high and 33% of India's total new cases. This trend has been consistent for the past several weeks, implying that COVID-19 is spreading fast in Kerala.
Issues: Kerala's positivity rate remains above 10%
Another concerning fact about Kerala is the state's high test positivity rate (TPR), which stands at an average 10% against a national average of over 2%. This means that for every 10 people tested in the state, at least one was found positive. Kerala and Maharashtra were the slowest states to come out of the COVID-19 second wave, a recent SBI Research report stated.
Vaccinations: Over 13% fully vaccinated in Kerala
Meanwhile, according to Co-WIN, Kerala has administered over 1.5 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses, including 1.13 crore first doses and 37.5 lakh second doses. Of the eligible population (those aged over 18 years), over 40% have received at least one vaccine dose, while over 13% are fully vaccinated (the highest among Indian states). The gender gap in vaccinations in Kerala is also narrow.
Solution: Kerala revises strategy; triple lockdown in 175 local bodies
Further, Kerala has extended the lockdown curbs by a week on Wednesday. Local self-governments (LSGs) with under 5% TPR (category A; 82 LSGs) will see no restrictions. There will be partial restrictions in LSGs with 5-10% TPR (category B; 415), a lockdown in LSGs with 10-15% TPR (category C; 362), and a triple lockdown in LSGs with over 15% TPR (category D; 175).
Fact: Testing to be increased in northern districts
The state government has also decided to boost testing in the state's northern districts, where the outbreak is worse. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Tuesday he will look into the situation in Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasaragod, and Wayanad districts.
Centre: Centre suggests COVID-19 management strategies to Kerala
On Wednesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan also wrote to the Kerala Chief Secretary suggesting measures to control COVID-19 spread. Containment is the "most crucial" strategy in flattening the curve, Bhushan wrote, taking note of the fast rate of transmission across the state. The Centre also suggested increased testing, better health infrastructure, improved clinical management, rapid vaccinations, and better compliance with COVID-19 appropriate behavior.
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Also see: Coronavirus: How well is India's vaccination drive doing?
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