Kerala's spurt in COVID-19 cases due to robust surveillance
(Sourced from PTI)
After managing to flatten the COVID-19 curve within months of reporting the country's first case last year, Kerala is now grappling with a sharp surge in its daily infections, prompting the Centre to send a high-level team to assist it. However, the state government maintains the "high numbers" are a result of robust surveillance and reporting system, while pointing to its low fatality rate.
Close to 40,000 cases were reported from Kerala in the last week, with daily addition of around 5,000, even as its neighboring states are seeing a reversal. Kerala recorded 5,051 new cases on Thursday, including four UK returnees and 5,638 recoveries as the total caseload inched toward the eight lakh mark. The toll stood at 3,234 with nearly 65,000 active cases.
Health Minister KK Shailaja said that the upward graph could also be attributed to the recently concluded local body polls, swept by the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF. "Our ultimate aim is to save the lives of the people and reduce the mortality rate. Even with this high number of cases, we managed to reduce the death rate," she told PTI.
The state saw the virus curve flatten in April-May last year, even as it witnessed an increase in the cases later in the wake of the return of Keralites from abroad following the lockdown. Shailaja said that despite everything, Kerala managed to maintain a fairly low case-fatality rate, adding that the most scientific method of approach to a pandemic is to delay its peak.
Further, when asked about Kerala accounting for over 25 percent of new cases in India, she said, "It is meaningless to say that Kerala's situation is worse." She cited Dharavi's example saying that the pandemic was contained after nearly 400 deaths.
She said that while the government delayed the peak of the pandemic, it increased the number of ICUs, ventilators, and ensured oxygen supply to all beds. Further, Shailaja welcomed Centre's move to depute a team headed by the Director of the National Centre for Disease Control, Dr. SK Singh, to support public health interventions for COVID-19 management in the state.
Kerala Public Health officials say the percentage of active cases is high because of the state's discharge policy which stipulates that the patient should record a negative result before discharge. "The only question that will be asked at the end of the pandemic is how many lives we have saved and at what cost," Dr. Mohammed Asheel, Director of Social Security Mission said.
The official said Kerala never had any issue of shortage of beds in ICUs in the hospitals. The total virus caseload in the state has mounted to 7,95,933. Recoveries have touched 7,28,060 and the active cases stand at 64,445. At least 1,93,370 people are under observation in various districts and hospitals.