People are getting COVID-19 at home: Kerala Health Minister
As the COVID-19 situation is worsening in Kerala, state Health Minister Veena George on Thursday said that more than half of the population is still vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. Referring to the ICMR's (Indian Council of Medical Research) seroprevalence survey, George said Kerala has the "highest number of susceptible people in the country." She further said that people are largely getting infected at home.
George told CNN-News18 that the percentage of people getting infected from home is rising in the state, which is 35% at this moment. "The situation is such that if one person from a house contracts the virus, then everyone else gets infected," she added. She urged people to remain in home quarantine only if there are sufficient facilities at home.
Talking about the state government's efforts to tackle the COVID-19 situation, George said, "We are doing maximum tests, (our) tests per million are the highest in the country. We are also tracing, testing, and reporting every case." Referring to the ICMR serosurvey that found 42.7% seropositivity in the state, George asserted that this shows a successful protective mechanism adopted by the state government.
Talking about vaccination drive, George said 68% of the total population in the state has been covered with the first dose. She further said, "We always tried to keep the number of COVID-19 cases below the medical capacity threshold."
Notably, Kerala shared 70% of the new cases reported on Wednesday. On Thursday, the state recorded 30,077 new COVID-19 cases, a day after reporting a three-month-high of 31,445 infections. Since the last week of July, the state has been witnessing a steady rise in infections, which experts attribute to the violation of norms on the festivals of Bakrid and Onam.
Meanwhile, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday cited Kerala's COVID-19 situation to warn other states to take precautionary steps during the upcoming festival season in October and November. A central government team had earlier cited a lack of containment measures, low seroprevalence, and a high population of senior citizens as reasons for the surge in cases. Kerala has reported over 40,000 "breakthrough" cases.
Breakthrough infections refer to cases where individuals contract the virus after having immunity against it, even through prior infection or vaccination. The Centre has reportedly asked the Kerala government to send all such cases for genome sequencing, suspecting new COVID-19 variants.