Health crisis likely in Kerala if active COVID-19 cases cross 2.5 lakh, oxygen shortage at 4 lakh

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is likely to face a severe crisis if the number of active COVID-19 cases crosses 2.5 lakh, as it will pose a challenge to the already stretched healthcare system.

The State may also experience a shortage of hospital beds if the number of active cases touches 3.6 lakh. It will also affect the treatment of non-COVID patients.

COVID-19 Expert Committee members and top officials of the Department of Health had warned the government of an increasing possibility of further deterioration of the pandemic situation. The warning prompted Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday to speak about the possibility of imposing stricter restrictions in the State.

Foreseeing a possible further increase in active cases, the government is not taking any chances. It has ordered to take stock of the available oxygen.

Lowering the guard against coronavirus might take the number of patients under treatment to five lakh. When the number of active cases requiring advanced treatment crosses four lakh, it may lead to a shortage of oxygen in the state.

As many as 1.78 lakh patients are under treatment as on Friday, which also reported 28,447 new cases. Lower number of patients testing negative, compared to the daily spike in positive cases, is yet another challenge. Under 6,000 patients are recovering from the disease daily. As many as 5,663 patients recovered on Friday.

During the first wave, October 24 last had recorded the most number of patients under treatment: 97,417. It showed a gradual decline to reach 24,650 on March 30. The number of patients started increasing from April 1.

Yet another concern is the rising test positivity rate (TPR). The TPR normally decreases as more samples are tested. On Friday, the State reported a TPR of 21.78 per cent after testing 1,30,617 samples in 24 hours.

The government felt that strict adherence to COVID-19 protocol by the public would help in controlling the surge and bringing down the number of daily positive cases in two weeks.

Increase in ICU patients

The spike in the number of patients under treatment will be a threat, though the mortality rate in Kerala is lesser compared with other states. Though official figures have put the number of casualties at 5,055, health experts estimate that the actual toll could be almost double the figure.

The deaths have been increasing. The state reported 11 deaths on April 11, and the number of casualties till Friday was 272. For the first time, the number of patients in intensive care units crossed 1,000 on Thursday. As many as 1,064 patients are now under intensive care.

The number of patients needing ventilator support also crossed 150 in April. Currently, 320 patients are on ventilators.

Expedite vaccination drive

Health experts said expediting the vaccination drive would help in checking the mortality rate. The elderly and others with co-morbid conditions should be administered the second dose without delay. Though vaccinated individuals can contract the disease, it is likely to reduce the intensity of the virus.


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