COVID-19 cases double in 3 weeks; Kerala ramps up tests

As COVID-19 cases double in 3 weeks, Kerala ramps up testing

Representative image. (Credit: Getty Images)

Kerala that has managed to contain COVID-19 spike during the initial phases in now witnessing the tally getting doubled in three weeks with the inflow of persons from other states and abroad. This has forced the government to initiate steps like increasing the number of daily COVID-19 tests to 3,000 as the chances of community spread is quite high.

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After the first COVID-19 case was reported on January 30, it took more than three months for the total numbers to cross the 500-mark on May 5 in Kerala. But with the inflow of Keralites from other states and abroad from the first week of May, it took only three weeks for the figures to cross the 1,000-mark on May 27. The number of active cases in Kerala had come down to 16 by May 8 but it shot back to 445 by Wednesday.

Of the 5.14 lakh people who registered to return to Kerala, only 1.12 lakh have returned so far. The rate of return will go up in the coming weeks as modes of transportation are being enhanced. Hence Kerala is heading towards a very grim COVID-19 scenario.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself has been repeatedly indicating that the state was heading towards a more severe situation. Health experts have also cited there are high chances of community spread.

The state government has now decided to conduct COVID-19 PCR test on at least 3,000 persons every day. So far only around 1,300 tests were done daily. Health officials were justifying the comparatively lower number of tests in Kerala maintaining that kits were being used judiciously to ensure that the state did not suffer a scarcity of test kits at critical situations like community spread. Only those with high levels of symptoms were being tested so far.

As the number of persons in quarantine increases drastically with the inflow of persons from other states and abroad, the state may also find it difficult to ensure proper quarantine. This poses a serious risk of community spread. So far Kerala managed to contain COVID-19 spread mainly by picking up infected persons at the initial stages itself and thereby minimising spread through local contacts, said a senior health department official.

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