Covid-19 continues to head north in Kerala with another surge of 7,631 cases

Kerala reported 7,631 Covid-19 cases on Sunday taking the state’s tally to 3,41,859 out of which 2,45,399 have recovered while active cases climbed to 95,200, the health department said.

There were 22 casualties on Sunday, taking the death in the pandemic to 1,161.

Ahead of the release of Sunday’s figures, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said in Delhi that Kerala had squandered its early advantage and paid a big price for its laxity during the Onam festival.

The minister said that the state was paying a huge price for negligence during Onam festivities and asked other states to learn a lesson from Kerala’s bitter experience. His criticism came hours after a government-appointed expert committee cautioned that relaxing curbs during the festive season could lead to a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases.

But executive director of the Kerala Social Security Mission, Dr Mohammad Asheel criticised the Union minister’s comments saying it will only help create panic.

“What the minister said is wrong. Death rate is lowest here and we have a high recovery rate also. Politics should be kept away from pandemic,” he said.

But opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said like the minister he was pointing out ‘pitfalls’ for some time but the government failed to heed them. He asked the government to double the tests rather than finding refuge in outdated records.

Statistics show things are not going right in the state. Kerala is one of the six worst affected states with high test positivity rate (TPR) and heavy load of active cases at 95,200. On Sunday, the TPR stood at 13.06%. Once lauded for its model pandemic control measures, Covid-19 cases surged after the first week of September following Onam festivities.

Though the ground situation is grim, the state government said it has the lowest mortality rate in the country, 0.40 against the national average of 1.50 %. But many experts and opposition parties have criticised the government in finding refuge in mere records without seeing the writing on the wall.

Experts have asked the government to increase the test rate considerably and give more emphasis on RT-PCR tests. Out of 39 lakh tests at least 60% have been antigen tests. They also asked the state not to include repeat tests in the tally and provide more ICU beds and ventilators. They warned critical care medical infrastructure will suffer badly if cases continue to increase at the current rate.

A central health team is currently visiting the state to gauge the situation and recommend remedies.

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