As Kerala reels under intense heat, 102 cases of sunburn, including two sunstrokes, were reported in the state on Wednesday. The state health department has advised people to avoid direct exposure to sun from 11 am to 3 pm and outdoor workers have been suggested to remain indoor at noon due to the severe heat situation.
According to health department data, 288 sunburn/sunstroke cases have been reported in the state since March 1. Four suspected deaths due to sunstroke have been reported over the last one week.
Health Minister K K Shylaja said the intense heat situation would prevail for at least a week and the department has taken steps to prevent any outbreak of epidemic.
The highest temperature was recorded at 39.1 degrees Celsius in Thrissur on Wednesday, according to the Met Department. The maximum temperature is very likely to be above the normal by 2 to 4 degree Celsius for the next two days in most parts of the states. On Tuesday, the maximum temperature touched 40 degrees Celsius in Palakkad.
Deficiency in rainfall was reported in the state in the period following the devastating floods of August last year. From January to February, the state reported 46 per cent deficiency in rainfall.
The intense heat condition is due to lack of rains and clear sky, according to Dr S Abhilash, assistant professor at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Cochin University of Science and Technology. “For a month, starting from the second week of March, during the ongoing summer season, ultraviolet sun rays vertically fall on Kerala, leading to sunburns or heat-related health issues. The energy-intense UV rays are not absorbed in the atmosphere which is clear and cloudless these days. More than the temperature, it is the direct exposure to UV rays that creates sunburn or sunstroke,” he said.
Dr Abhilash said humidity has made the situation worse. “If the temperature is 37 degrees Celsius and humidity is 80 per cent, the effective temperature felt would be around 50 degrees Celsius. That is why the state is feeling discomfort even if the temperature is around 37 degrees.”
Most parts of the state recorded humidity above 70 per cent on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the ground water level across Kerala has come down due to the dry spell that followed the flood in August. Ground water department director Justin Mohan said that the ground water level has gone down from .25 meters to 2 meters from the normal level in the last one month.