Kerala: More people ‘contracting Covid at home’, Veena George says state’s tests per million highest in India
Kerala Health Minister Veena George on Thursday exclusively told CNN-News18 that the state has the highest number of people, who are vulnerable to contracting coronavirus. “The ICMR seroprevalence survey shows that more than 50 percent of the Kerala population is still unaffected. That means we have the highest number of susceptible people in the country. We are doing maximum tests, (our) test per million is the highest in the country. We are also tracing, testing and reporting every case,” she said over the phone.
She also said that percentage of patients getting infection from home is rising. She said that as per a study conducted by the state health department, 35% of the patients are getting infected from home. “The situation is such that if one person from a house contracts the virus then everyone else gets infected," she added. The Minister has appealed to the public to remain in home quarantine only if there is sufficient facility at home.
Talking about the ICMR’s sero survey — which stated that Kerala has 42.7 percent of seropositivity — the health minister further said the results of the survey showed that more than 50 percent of the population is still unaffected, indicating Kerala’s successful protective mechanism. “We have covered more than 68 percent of the total population with the first dose,” she added.
Stressing on the steps taken by the state government to contain the virus, George said, “The second wave started in Kerala by middle of April, almost after one month it started in other parts of the country. We always tried to keep the number of Covid cases below the medical capacity threshold.”
Kerala on Wednesday logged 31,445 new coronavirus cases days after Onam, recording a massive jump of infections since the last three months. As many as 215 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, while 1,65,273 samples were tested. The last time the state crossed the 30,000-mark was on May 20 when it witnessed 30,491 cases. The state’s positivity ratio (TPR) stands at 19.3% — a jump from Tuesday’s 18.04%, which was the highest in recent weeks.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday cited Kerala’s Covid situation to sound an alarm bell for other states and advised them to take precautionary steps during the upcoming festivals between October and November.
Since July 27 after the Bakrid celebrations when restrictions were relaxed for a few days, the state has been reporting more than or close to 20,000 cases almost every day. On the day of Onam on August 21, Kerala reported 17,106 Covid-19 cases and 83 deaths as crowding was reported in markets from various parts of the state ahead of the festival. The state’s test positivity rate at the time stood at 17.73 per cent.
What is also worrying is the fact that since the last week of July, Kerala has been seeing a steady surge in the number of daily cases, prompting the Centre to rush an expert team to take stock. The central team flagged inadequate containment measures by the state. It also flagged low seroprevalence and a significantly high population of senior citizens — all contributing to the spike.
The state has also reported cases of breakthrough infections, pinned as one of the factors behind the Covid spike last month. Breakthrough cases are Covid-19 infections in people who have been vaccinated against the virus. Most breakthrough cases have been reported from the Pathanamthitta district.