Even as the Supreme Court pulled up the state for allowing a three-day relaxation for Bakrid festival, Kerala on Tuesday clocked another spike in Covid-19 infections reporting 22,129 cases with a high test positivity rate (TPR) of 12.35 per cent.
Statistics released by the state health ministry shows it is the highest tally and TPR in a month and the state contributes more than 50 per cent of total cases of the country - in last 24 hours the country reported 39,361 cases with a TPR of 1.68 per cent. Of 430,000 active cases, the state’s share is 126,000.
Though many experts have started talking in terms of a possible third wave, the state government stuck to its repeated theory that the second wave started very late and what the state was witnessing is the peak of the second wave. But a close look at infection pattern shows the state is showing no sign of plateauing. When infections started declining rapidly across the country, Kerala is the only state that reports high volume of cases for more than a month.
The Union ministry of health and family welfare said that the number of new infections of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) have continuously declined following its peak in early May. After the SC rap, the state has decided not to give any relaxation after Bakrid and weekend lockdown will continue for one more month. “On Friday we will do 300,000 tests. High TPR is a big concern and we should increase our vigil and surveillance,” said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan after the pandemic review meeting.
As the threat of third wave looms large, some experts have called for a strict monitoring of high incidences in Kerala and Maharashtra. But others said the presence of antibodies in Kerala is only half of the national average. “In the latest sero survey around 67 per cent of the total population in the country have antibodies but in Kerala it is below 30 per cent. So there are large pockets of uninfected people who are susceptible. It was expected,” said public health expert Dr N M Arun. He said it was too early to talk about a third wave but the state needs utmost vigil.
As cases rise exponentially last week the CM had announced a series of relaxations for Bakird which came in for heavy criticism. At least 40 people will be allowed in places of worship and shops and business establishments were opened till 8 pm. And the number of pilgrims in Sabarimala hill temple was also doubled from 5000 to 10,000.
The SC had criticised the state and warned that it will be held responsible for any possible outcome. Besides concessions for Bakrid, certain activities like film shooting and relaxations for places of worship were also announced. But many experts and the apex body of doctors, Indian Medical Association, came down heavily on it saying “it was most ill-timed and inappropriate.” The number of people who succumbed to the virus rose to 16,326 with 156 more deaths.
As many as 13,145 people have been cured of the infection, taking the total recoveries to 31,43,043 and the number of active cases to 1,45,371, a state government release said. Five districts in the state reported more than 2,000 fresh cases. Of the new cases, 116 are health workers, 124 had come from outside the state and 20,914 were infected through contact, with the source of contact being not clear in 975 cases, the release said.
In the last 24 hours, 1,79,130 samples were tested and the TPR was found to be 12.35 per cent. The cumulative number of specimens examined so far is 2,65,36,792. There are currently 4,36,387 people under surveillance in various districts.