Kerala, which had flattened the Covid-19 curve in the previous two bouts, is on the brink of community spread with a steady spike in cases in the last 20 days, mainly due to the return of people from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Kerala on Thursday reported 84 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking the total to 1,088. The number of positive cases has more than doubled over the last 20 days in the state, which had reported only 503 cases for 100 days from January 30 to May 8.
After the review meeting, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told media that the state is on the brink of community outbreak of infection. “At this stage, we cannot say that there is community spread of Covid-19 in Kerala. But, we are on the brink of community spread. The number of positive cases has gone up. But, most of them are from outside and infected through contacts in Kerala. That is a positive sign that we can still contain the spread of infection,’’ he said, adding that all cases with cold and flu would be subjected to Covid-19 test.
The data on daily cases over the last one week shows more people coming from other states are testing positive in Kerala than those coming from abroad.
Health department officials said there was hope because positivity rate is low. Of the 10,000 persons who came to Kerala from abroad by flights and ships till May 26, only 1% have tested positive. Nine out of 1,000 persons who returned from Maharashtra have tested positive and the figure for Tamil Nadu returnees is 3 out of 1,000, sources said.
The state has also ramped up daily testing, which is also being cited as a reason for identifying more asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Till May 2, the state had only tested 31,183 samples as part of regular daily testing, to save test kits for emergency situation. But on May 28, the total tests in Kerala jumped to 60,685, which shows that 49% of the testing happened in the last 26 days.
Apart from above, 8,599 samples were taken from groups like healthcare workers, persons with high social exposure, workers etc. as part of Sentinel surveillance, of which 6 samples tested positive. As many as 8,174 samples tested negative, while result of 419 are awaited. What worries officials is the steady rise in cases of patients who got infected as primary or secondary contacts of persons with travel history.
“Cases from contact transmission is being regularly reported from Palakkad, a gateway to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, after curbs were eased. Tests are being ramped up with an assumption that there is a community spread lurking in the state,’’ sources said.
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