Central team arrives in Kerala as state reports another spike in Covid-19 cases

As the central health team started its tour to review the grim Covid-19 situation in Kerala, the state reported another spike with 9,016 new cases of infection on Saturday. Kerala also reported a high test positivity rate (TPR) of 17.31 percent.

The load of active Covid-19 cases in Kerala is among the six worst states in the country. Kerala’s TPR is highest at 17.31 percent against the national average of 8 percent, according to the data released by the state health ministry. The only solace for the state is its mortality rate which is the lowest in the country, below 0.5 percent while the national average stands at 1.6 percent.

Health experts said the next few weeks are critical for the state and asked officials and public not to lower their guard during the festive season. They asked the government to hike the test rate and give more emphasis on RT-PCR tests. Out of around 38 lakh Covid-19 tests conducted in the state, at least 60 percent are antigen tests. The authorities have also urged the state not to include repeat tests in the tally. Malappuram topped the list with 1,500 cases followed by Thrissur and Ernakulam districts.

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Though chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said the state was aiming to increase daily number of tests to one lakh, statistics show the tally crossed 70,000 just once. There were allegations that the state was not hiking tests to suppress the real situation, however, the government denied the claims. “We suspect the government is fudging data and lowering tests. It is only interested in records and honours,” said state Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran. State health minister KK Shailakla said the opposition was raising wild allegations even amid a pandemic.

Officials from the central team began their two-day visit to Kerala to review the pandemic situation and met with health officials on the first day. The team also visited some of the worst-affected areas in the state capital. On Sunday, the officials will head to Thrissur and Kozhikkode and will later submit a report to the Union health ministry.

Kerala’s total number of Covid-19 cases stands at 334,228 with 96,004 active infections and 236,989 patients who have recovered from the disease. With 26 fresh fatalities, the death toll has risen to 1,139. In the last 24 hours, 52,067 samples were tested in the state. Once lauded for its pandemic control measures, the situation turned worse after Onam festivities in the first week of September.

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