Is Kerala leading India to third wave of Covid-19?
New Delhi, July 31: Kerala, which had dealt with the deadly Nipah virus and known for its robust public health, is in the spotlight as the state grapples with coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly 50% of Covid-19 cases in India have of late been reported from Kerala, which once received many a laurel in the international arena for its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The statistics show Kerala's positivity rate is much higher than the national average.
Even as the second wave of coronavirus has steadily declined in India, the Covid scare in Kerala is still at large, as the daily test positivity rate (TPR) in the state is showing no signs of plummeting to a safe level.
On Friday, Kerala saw20,772 new Covid cases, recording over 20,000 infections for the fourth straight day. The state's test positivity rate (TPR) rose to 13.61 per cent.
Some of the worst-hit districts were Malappuram (3,670 cases), Kozhikode (2,470), Ernakulam (2,306), Thrissur (2,287), Palakkad (2,070), Kollam (1,415), Alappuzha (1,214), Kannur (1,123), Thiruvananthapuram (1,082), and Kottayam (1030).
Owing to the increase in positivity rate, Kerala, which was once cited as the role model for management of the disease is reimposing tougher Covid-19 restrictions as public anxiety mounts about a potential third wave of infections.
What led to spike in Kerala's covid tally?
The Kerala government is under fire for its move to announce a three-day relaxation of Covid curbs for Eid-Ul-Azha last week drew sharp comments from the opposition. Though, many North Indian states decided to cancel Kanwar Yatra in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kerala government failed to put any relaxations during the Eid celebrations.
The top medical body has called Kerala govt's decision to ease COVID-19 restrictions ahead of Bakrid, as "unwarranted and inappropriate" at a time of a medical emergency.
The R-factor, which indicates the speed at which Covid-19 infection is spreading in the country, is climbing steadily with Kerala occupying the top post, fueling fears of third wave. Kerala has the highest number of active cases and continues to have an R-value around 1.11.
Centre rushes team
Following the development, the Centre has decided to send a six-member team from the National Centre for Disease Control to Kerala to take stock of the Covid-19 situation.
"There are many concerns, rise in positivity rate is one. Cases are declining everywhere and transmission is continuing in Kerala," Singh, Director, who is a part of the team, said earlier, according to news agency PTI. "Let us discuss this with the state. It is a comprehensive situation, let us see how things unfold," he said.
Reportedly, the union health secretary has written a letter to the state government specifying some super spreader events before the increase in the number of cases.
Planned campaign against Kerala, says health minister
However, Kerala Health Minister Veena George has defended the state's Covid situation saying a similar trend was seen in the first wave, too, and termed the phenomenon "dragging the wave".
"There's a planned campaign against Kerala. All experts in different states say that we have a very good defence mechanism. Seroprevalence study by the ICMR shows that almost 42% of people have antibodies. This shows that our preventive mechanism was very good. More than 50% population is still unaffected," she was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Veena George also blamed the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for the recent surge in cases