Fresh cases record yet another high of 86 in Kerala. With testing ramped up, it could touch 100 soon

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Tuesday saw 86 fresh COVID-19 cases in Kerala, yet another high in a phase that is witnessing stranded Malayalis returning from high-risk areas in foreign countries as well as other states.

In less than a month after the first flights landed on May 8, Kerala has seen the pandemic acquiring a shocking virulent form. Even at this stage, when only less than 1.5 lakh of the nearly 6 lakh Malayalis stuck outside had returned, the numbers have shown a furious demonic growth.

In the last seven days, there were two days with more than 80 cases; apart from the 86 today, May 28 had 84 (if the Telengana native who died is also counted, the number would be 85 on the day).

On May 8, the number of active cases was just 16, it appeared as if Kerala was about to be freed of the virus. Now, 25 days later, the number of active cases has shot up to 774.

The total confirmed cases, in the same 25 days, have shot up to 1412 from 503.

In the first 100 days, there were on an average five COVD-19 cases per day. In the last 25 days, the average daily rate of fresh cases is 56.

The increase in testing, which began from May 31, is expected to reveal more positive cases. From May 31, over 3000 samples are being taken daily. Before that, the daily average was 850.

Death of a priest

The deaths are also a matter of concern. In the first 100 days of the pandemic, there were just three deaths. But within the next 25 days, there has been eight more deaths, taking the tolal toll to 11.

The latest victim was a priest, Fr K G Varghese, who died in Thiruvananthapuram Medical College on Tuesday. He was 77. The priest, who belonged to the Orthodox denomination, has no travel history and had been admitted to the Medical College after he had met with an accident one-and-a-half months ago.

He is said to have been thrown off the scooter in which he was riding pillion when it accidentally hit a bump speeding. The priest had a serious head injury. The official release merely states that the priest was under treatment for pneumonia in Thiruvananthapuram.

His serum sample was declared positive on Tuesday.

The priest's death would throw up some difficult questons. How could he have been infected when he had been isolated in the Medical College for over a month? Are there undetected asymptomatic carriers among the care givers in the Medical College?

Top sources in the Medical College suspect the priest could have been infected by outsiders who had come to wish him well.

Disturbing number

Of the 86 new cases on Tuesday, 46 had come from abroad: Kuwait - 21; UAE - 16; Saudi Arabia - 6; Qatar, Oman and Maldives - one each.

26 others had returned from other states: Maharashtra - 9; Tamil Nadu - 7; Karnataka - 5; Delhi - 3; Gujarat and Rajasthan - one each.

The disturbing fact is 12 positive cases today had got the infection through contacts. One of them is a health worker in Palakkad whose source of infection is unknown.

It is also not clear whether the rest had got the virus from people who had come infected from outside. One of them, the priest who died today, had obviously not got the infection from returnees.

Northern spike

Malappuram has the largest number of cases on Tuesday, 15. Alappuzha has 10; Kasaragod, 9; Kollam, 8; Thiruvananthapuram, 7 of which one (the priest) expired; Kottayam, Thrissur, and Wayanad have six each; Palakkad, Kozhikode and Kannur have five each; Ernakulam has three and Pathanamthitta has one.

There are now two districts with more than 100 active cases: Palakkad - 146, and Kannur - 113. And there are four districts with more than 50 cases: Kasaragod, 98; Malappuram - 76; Thrissur - 60; Alappuzha - 51. Idukki is the only district with single-digit active cases, 9.

Northern districts, from Thrissur and above, see a spike in cases. All except Kozhikode (37) Wayanad (15) have 60 or more cases.

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