New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: Even as India looks all set to get rid of the COVID-19 scourge nearly a year after it reared its ugly head, the situation continues to be severe in Kerala. Nearly half of the daily cases reported in the country is in Kerala. The state is currently at the third spot (9.11 lakh) in terms of the total number of infected cases and first in the total number of people undergoing treatment.
The first COVID-19 case in the country was reported in Kerala's Thrissur district on January 30, 2020. Nearly a year later, seven districts in Kerala are among the top 10 districts in the country with the most number of people under treatment for COVID-19; the other three are in Maharashtra, the only other state which is struggling to arrest the spread coronavirus which is behind the global pandemic.
The worst districts, states
Pune - 13,014; Ernakulam - 10,873; Kozhikode – 8,002; Thane – 7,683; Kottayam – 6,972; Kollam – 5,657; Pathanamthitta – 5,564; Mumbai – 5,521; Thrissur – 5,069; and Palakkad - 4,622.
Kerala also heads the list of five states with the most number of people under treatment. The number of people under treatment in Kerala is more than the combined numbers from the other four states. Kerala has 72,392 patients, while the numbers from other four states only add up to 61,489.
The figures are: Kerala - 72,392; Maharashtra - 43,051; Uttar Pradesh – 6,368; Karnataka – 6,202; West Bengal – 5,868.
A total of 5,771 people tested positive after 58,472 samples were tested in the state on Thursday. The positivity rate is at 9.87 per cent. The total number of deaths is at 3,682.
Local body polls to blame?
Health Minister K K Shailaja has termed the local body polls as the reason for the surge in the COVID-19 cases in the state.
"People who blame Kerala over the COVID-19 spread are talking without assessing the situation. Testing in the state has not been reduced," the minister added.
25,000 cops for surveillance
In a bid to reinforce measures to rein in the pandemic, 25,000 cops would be deployed for strict surveillance at public places from Friday till February 10.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the police should ensure that people are maintaining social distancing and wearing masks at public spaces such as bus stands, railway stations, shopping malls, and hospitals.
More sectoral magistrates would be deployed for surveillance. Closed halls should not be chosen to hold weddings, other events and public meetings. It is advised to hold such functions in open spaces and in line with the social distancing norms.
Hotel authorities should also try to conform to these guidelines.
The CM also appealed to the public to avoid travel after 10pm as much as possible.
Health dept warns of further rise
The health department has warned that the daily cases could be in the range of 6,600-7,400 in the next 13 days. The new restrictions have been imposed in Kerala, while also considering this estimate.
Though the test positivity rate would increase, the death rate would not rise, it is estimated. Orders would be issued on the restrictions.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that the actual COVID-19 figures would be announced to the public even if that may invite criticisms.
Though there is no widespread increase in COVID-19 cases as earlier, the daily number of positive cases is more than the recoveries. As per this month's data, there was a steady increase in the number of cases. A total of 35,296 cases were reported between January 4 and January 10. In the week starting on January 11, it became 36,700 and 42,430 in the week starting from the January 18.
Less than 3 per cent of the state's population has been infected with the Coronavirus so far, as per the official data.
Curbs at theatres
Meanwhile, it has been decided not to immediately implement the Centre's guidelines that allowed for more number of people beyond the 50% limit at movie theatres. Currently, the permission is to allow filling up to 50 per cent of the seating capacity.