The Danger of Coronavirus: Why the Infection is increasing in Kerala
According to the data of the Union Health Ministry, 44,658 new daily cases of Kovid-19 were found in India on Thursday (August 26), out of which more than thirty thousand cases were found in Kerala alone.
Although there has been a decline in infections in most of the states, two states of the country-Kerala and Maharashtra-are still witnessing continuous infection.
In fact, Kerala alone accounts for almost half of the total daily cases reported in India for the past several weeks. The test positivity rate (TPR) in Kerala is over 10 per cent, while the national average is just two per cent.
Is this a cause for concern for India?
Let us consider this objectively. An effective response to a pandemic can be assessed on a combination of at least three main scales.
One, slowing down the infection, giving the health system time to prepare. Second, reduce the impact on the vectors of infection through better health services, as assessed based on mortality. and third, to implement control measures to prevent infection, that is, through vaccination, prevention and other restrictions.
Kerala has been more successful in slowing down the infection than any other Indian state, according to the fourth National Seroprevalence Survey. Among the 21 states surveyed, Kerala had the lowest seroprevalence at 44.6 per cent.
As it happens, this essentially meant that Kerala has proportionately more vulnerable people than any other state. With the arrival of the delta variant, which is more contagious, more cases are being reported in the state.
As for the second measure of mitigation, the mortality rate in Kerala is 0.5 per cent, about a third of the national average of 1.3 per cent.
Even as the second wave peaked and several states were reeling under a crisis of beds, oxygen supplies and vital medical supplies, the health system in Kerala was under pressure, but it never faltered.
The state has a high elderly population and a burden of non-communicable diseases, so poor healthcare systems can lead to more deaths. But the state has performed better in this regard.
In terms of measures to contain and contain the spread of the pandemic, Kerala is one of the few states that are still doing widespread contact tracing and conducting targeted COVID-19 testing in high-risk populations and high-infection areas. are.
This is an analysis of high TPR. The other relatively better-performing state is Maharashtra, where one in 12 infections are found. In any state, only one case is being raised for almost every 100 infections.
The pace of vaccination is also fast in Kerala and about 20 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated, while 55 per cent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Kerala accounts for half of India’s daily COVID-19 cases, although Kerala is detecting and reporting more cases, which any better disease surveillance system should do.
We cannot blame any state for doing the right thing. This is expected in the case of infectious diseases in well-functioning health systems. One reason for the continuing infection in Kerala is the delta variant, which affected the entire nation in the second wave and reached Kerala a few weeks later.
The spread of this variant affecting more people in a short span of time is slow in Kerala, indicating an effective response. It is not that Kerala has always done everything right.
For example, it allowed election rallies in Onam in 2020 and again in 2021. Some of these gatherings led to an increase in infections and hence increased cases.
Clearly, there is a need to learn from the mistakes of the past. As long as the transition continues, Kerala and other states will have to stop such gatherings at any cost.
Although we need to keep a watch on every area with constant infection, Kerala should consider a few things. First, the state needs to develop a more nuanced and dynamic ‘containment and unlock’ strategy with the use of local epidemiological parameters.
Second, there is a need for the active participation of community people and local bodies. Third, the state will have to refrain from giving exemptions during festivals. Fourth, new campaigns should be launched to improve adherence to COVID Appropriate Practices.
Fifth, the pace of COVID-19 vaccination in Kerala needs to be accelerated. Most importantly, these strategies should be implemented in a targeted manner in a high and continuous spread area with a local approach.
The pandemic is continuing in India, with the virus spreading to all states at different rates. The fear of a third wave remains and it will take several months for the disease to become endemic.
COVID vaccines do not reduce infection; However, they can certainly reduce the mortality rate.
The continued transmission and high reporting of cases in Kerala is the result of a more vulnerable population, which is not a cause for concern, as it is a natural novel virus, which calls for cautious intervention.
Cases are low in many states, but if another form of the virus emerges, the situation may change, which is feared.
Therefore, despite low infections, all states should be prepared for an increase in cases, strengthen health facilities and accelerate vaccination.
Apart from this, there is also a need to learn from each other. Only then will we be able to win this pandemic.