Kerala: Calls for strict lockdown grow as COVID-19 surge continues
As the COVID-19 situation is worsening in Kerala, the central government has reportedly indicated that only a "strict lockdown" can help the state curb the rising infections. Keeping upcoming festivities in mind, Kerala needs strategic and smart containment much like Delhi, sources in the Union Health Ministry told CNN-News18. Kerala reported an average of 19,500 cases per day in August.
Pointing out the massive spread of infections, the sources told the publication that if a strict lockdown is imposed now, cases will start declining by mid-September. "There is no other way but to lock down areas where the infection rate is high. The test positivity rate is high and cases can only come down if strict lockdown is implemented," they added.
Kerala has been reporting a high number of COVID-19 cases since July-end. In July, the state reported an average of 13,500 cases/day, which rose to almost 19,500 daily cases in August. On Tuesday, Kerala recorded 30,203 fresh infections against the national tally of 43,034 cases. Experts attribute this steep rise in cases to the violation of norms during the festivals of Bakrid and Onam.
Meanwhile, Kerala Health Minister Veena George blamed the violation of home quarantine directives for the worsening situation. Cautioning against indoor transmission of the virus, she urged people to not venture out of their room during home quarantine and wear masks while at home. Notably, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also announced a special package of Rs. 267.35 crore for Kerala to strengthen health infrastructure.
Earlier, George had expressed concern over indoor transmission of the virus. She had said that a state government survey found 35% of people were getting infected from home. She had also said that over 50% of people in the state remain vulnerable to COVID-19.
Kerala has imposed a night curfew starting Monday to curb infections. While announcing the night curfew, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said his government's objective is to avoid deaths as much as possible and vaccinate maximum people. "During a pandemic, the most important factor is to reduce the deaths. In Kerala, the mortality rate is 0.51% whereas the national mortality rate is 1.34%."
Separately, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to the Kerala government last week expressing concerns over the rapid surge in COVID-19 cases since July. Bhushan pointed out that despite the state government's efforts to increase testing, the test confirmation percentage remains very high, "signaling widespread transmission." He noted that all 14 districts in Kerala have been identified as districts of concern.