Kerala has been witnessing an increase in the cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) but it has managed to keep the mortality rate in check, its health minister KK Shailaja said as the infections mounted in the southern state, once praised for its handling of the pandemic.
On Saturday, Kerala reported 11,755 cases, which the biggest ever single-day surge, which was more than the daily tally of Maharashtra and Karnataka, which are among the worst-hit states in the country. Maharashtra, which is has reported the maximum number of Covid-19 cases, on Saturday reported 11,416 new infections and Karnataka added 10,517 cases.
Kerala’s fresh infections crossed the 10,000 mark for the first time on October 7 and it reported 9,250 cases on Friday. Its infection tally climbed to 277,855 on Saturday and the reported 95,918 active cases of the viral disease. Data shows 978 people, 306 in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram, have lost their lives to the deadly virus.
Kerala had won global praise for its strategy in containing the spread of the pandemic in the initial months after reporting the country’s first Covid-19 case in January but the southern state has been witnessing a sharp spike in new infections since September.
“It is incorrect to say that cases are very high in Kerala. The cases are definitely rising. But the mortality rate is not as high as other states. The ultimate aim is to reduce the mortality rate,” Shailaja was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
“We could contain cases when there was lockdown. But now measures are eased. We can’t blame the government for easing restrictions because people need to work and earn or else they will starve to death. But people need to follow all precautions,” Shailaja added.
Kerala reported the country’s first case of Covid-19 on January 30 after a medical student, who came back from China’s Wuhan, tested positive. The second and third cases were also people who retuned from Wuhan city, the epicentre of the pandemic.
The state had 499 cases from January to March, out of which 33% was through local transmission and there were three deaths. Its case fatality rate was 0.5% at that time. The government got some time to improve its health system, when the lockdown was declared on March 24, and up to May 3, there were no other cases. “The whole world looked at us and asked us the method to flatten the graph,” Shailaja had said.
However, the numbers of Covid-19 cases started to rise in Karala after May 4 as the lockdown was eased and people started coming home from abroad, especially from the Gulf, and other states. According to the government, 900,000 people have returned to the state since then. Kerala declared it had flattened the curve after reporting just one COvid-19 case and with just 16 people under treatment on May 8.
India’s Covid-19 tally topped 7 million on Sunday as 74,383 new infections and 918 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, with a rise in infections in southern states offsetting a drop in western regions.