Fresh wave looms in Kerala as covid-19 numbers rise again3 min read . Updated: 25 Dec 2020, 06:29 AM IST
- The state accounted for nearly one in every four new cases reported by India this week. The spike is coming from across the state, with Wayanad and Pathanamthitta being major hotspots
India reported fewer than 200,000 new coronavirus cases for the second straight week. But even as the pandemic continued to slow down at the national level, the one in Kerala is only getting worse. After slowing down for a while, fresh cases now signal a new wave of infections in the state.
Kerala’s share in India’s case-load rose alarmingly, as it accounted for 23% of the 167,221 new cases reported in the last seven days. This is as much about Kerala’s pacing outbreak as about the slowdown everywhere else. The gap with Maharashtra, the state with the second biggest share (12%), is widening. Both states had around 13% share each in early December.
Meanwhile, India became the second country to cross 10 million cases after the US. But unlike the US, active cases in India are coming down quickly, and are now below 300,000 for the first time since 12 July. Out of the 283,849 patients who have still not recovered, Kerala has the most (62,974), followed by Maharashtra (55,702) and Uttar Pradesh (16,378).
So far, India has recorded 10,123,778 coronavirus cases, data from the Union health ministry showed on Thursday.
Maharashtra again reported more than 500 covid-related deaths, pushing the state’s toll up by 1%. This was nearly a quarter of all deaths reported by India this week. Another quarter came from West Bengal (12%), where the pre-election mood is heating up, Delhi (9%), and Kerala (8%). Delhi is now past its third wave, but a slowdown in infections usually reflects in deaths only after a lag of a couple of weeks.
Deaths rose the most in Kerala (7%), Uttarakhand (5%), and Haryana (4%) this week, taking India’s total death count to 146,756 as of Thursday. All calculations are based on seven-day rolling averages.
Kerala’s 38,070 new cases, a 5.5% rise since last week, were distributed across its 14 districts. Of the 17 districts in India where cases rose 5% or more in a week, nine were in Kerala, data from howindialives.com showed. The number rose 11% each in Wayanad and Pathanamthitta and 9% in Kottayam.
The state’s daily additions are back to early December levels, though they are rising faster this time. The jump came within days of local body elections, in which over 20 million people cast their votes. The state added 4,635 active cases, almost a 3% rise in a week, even as other states reported a decline.
In deaths, the biggest spike this week was recorded by Palakkad (15%), Kozhikode (11%), and Alappuzha (10%), all in Kerala.
In the last fortnight, the positivity rate has dropped in all major states, data from covid19india.org showed. But despite the slowdown, states must not get lax on testing for the virus, especially with winter picking up and the holiday rush approaching. Consistently high testing in Delhi has helped tame the outbreak, but West Bengal’s low testing rate amidst growing case-load is a reason for worry.
Globally, the US continues to add the biggest chunk of new coronavirus cases: nearly 23% of all cases in the last one week. India contributed 3% of all cases. In deaths, a consistent slowdown has helped India reduce its cumulative share from nearly 10.5% in October to 8.5% now.
Europe is embarking on the New Year vacation season while facing another tragic coronavirus wave. Germany, France, the UK, Italy, and Poland accounted for 21% of the global deaths this week. The global case count has crossed 78 million, including 1.7 million deaths, data from the Johns Hopkins University showed.
While vaccine rollouts in the US and UK were raising hopes that the pandemic would end soon, a new strain of the coronavirus has spread panic globally. The new strain, found in London, is said to be 70% more infectious. Several countries, including India, have paused incoming air travel from the UK.
However, BioNTech, the German company that partnered with Pfizer on the first successful vaccine, has said it can make one for the new strain in six weeks’ time if needed.
In India, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday expressed hope on the possibility that India could begin vaccinating people against coronavirus in January itself. However, a pan-India reach is likely months away. The immediate challenge for India is to keep another wave of infections away by keeping the year-end revelry in check.