After keeping coronavirus in check for barely some time, the viral caseload has increased alarmingly in Kerala in the past one-week forcing health authorities to review containment strategies.

State health minister KK Shailaja on Sunday admitted that it is a testing time for Kerala and cases may go up sharply by next month.

More than 40,000 cases were reported in the last week and the positivity rate has gone up to 11.9% while the national average is below 8%. “Our strategy was right from day one and we contained deaths considerably.

Our death rate is still below one percent. But of late cases are surging and it was expected. It is the second wave of the virus,” she said.

The minister asked people not to lower their guard at this critical point and avoid big gatherings to avoid high mortality rates. She said relaxations during the Onam festivities and the ongoing protest by the opposition parties were the main reasons for the present surge.

The state is witnessing protests seeking the resignation of minister KT Jaleel who was interrogated in connection with the sensational gold smuggling case.

The minister said the state with a high density of population (860 people per square km) and with a high population of elderly people (more than 15 percent of the population is above 60) was a sitting duck but it managed well, slowing down the death rate (reported 678 casualties).

She held a high-level meeting to review the situation. The health department has asked asymptomatic patients to remain in isolation in their homes and not to crowd hospitals. In Covid-19 active cases (56,709) the state is in the fifth position now in the country.

According to health experts what is worrying is that in Kerala, Covid-19 cases peaked when other states are showing a downward trend and they expect the situation will continue like this till October-end.

“The reverse quarantine was successful to a large extent. Despite a surge in cases, the state managed the death rate considerably,” said Dr. B Iqbal, chairman of the expert committee for Covid-19 management.

On Sunday, the state reported 7,445 new cases taking the total to 1,75,384. Patients who have recovered stand at 1,17,921 and active cases are 56,709. With 21 new casualties, the death toll has gone up to 678.

The state has also increased tests with 54,493 tests being carried out on Sunday. The total number of tests has gone up to 27,71,533.

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