Coronavirus | Kerala Health Minister hints at lockdown

‘State seeing surge in COVID-19 cases after people let go of all vigil during Onam.’

Kerala is trying its best to prevent another lockdown, however, if COVID-19 transmission continues to surge as has been happening in the past few days, the State may not have other options, Health Minister K.K. Shylaja said on Sunday.

Addressing the media here, Ms. Shylaja said the State was facing crucial days ahead as far as the COVID-19 situation was concerned and that the State would have to pay a heavy price if people continued to let go of all vigil against the disease.

The State had managed to keep disease transmission down all these months. However, after people let go of all vigil during the Onam season, followed by the violent political protests on the streets, the test positivity had gone up to 12% now. If people maintained more vigil and observed all COVID-19 safety protocols strictly in the coming days, disease transmission could be held down, she said.

Kerala’s strategies for COVID-19 containment was strongly backed by science and despite the inherent vulnerabilities of the State — a high proportion of the elderly, high density of population and a high proportion of people with co-morbidities — it has managed to keep the case fatality rate at 0.39 %.

However, more care was needed to keep the elderly safe at home and prevent the infection reaching them.

Onus on youngsters

The maximum number of COVID-19 cases were reported amongst those aged between 20 and 40. This meant that the younger population, who were moving around, should follow all precautions strictly so that they did not carry the infection back to their parents and other elders at home, she said.

About 80% of those who died in Kerala had co-morbidities and age-wise, 72 % of the deaths had occurred amongst those aged above 70. However, 28% of the deceased were in the younger age group. Ms. Shylaja said that COVID-19 was not a disease to be taken lightly and that the disease affected individuals differently.

‘Enough beds for now’

She appealed to people to follow all instructions of the Health Department and to maintain utmost vigil so that cases did not surge and overwhelm the health system’s capacity.

The State had adequately prepared itself as far as hospital beds and critical care facilities were concerned. But if the daily case burden continued to rise, the health system would not be able to cope, she said.

She appealed to the public to take additional care, to avoid crowding at all costs and to ensure that the use of masks and physical distancing was maintained strictly. Till a vaccine or cure was available, this vigil should continue as COVID-19 would not disappear any time soon, she said.

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