Increasing Covid cases is going to make Kerala hit the top spot in total cases and active cases, if the situation isn’t brought under control. Meanwhile, the Kerala University’s decision to call applicants for all degree courses to apply for spot admission on the same day at the same place has created further panic in Thiruvananthapuram. Here are the Covid updates:
The Kerala Covid Crisis
Addressing the Covid-19 concerns in Kerala, the state Health Minister claimed that while the cases are increasing and needs caution, it is not excessive. However, according to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, the increase in Covid cases in Kerala, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh have been a cause for concern. Especially notable is the Test Positivity Rate of Kerala (10.01%) as compared to the national average (2.2%).
This has called for concern especially for Kerala, which has been touted by national media for having best managed the pandemic in the initial stages. The situation worsened since then, and minister Shailaja had said that the rise in cases could be attributed to the local body polls. She had earlier said that caution was necessary especially during the Christmas, New Year celebration, and experts believe that they might have added to the situation as well.
The national average TPR hasn’t crossed 3% in a long while, but Kerala has not only seen three times that number, it has crossed the 10%-mark by the end of December 2020. Moreover, 79.5 % of the Covid patients come from 10 states and of them Kerala, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh tops the chart. While Kerala’s active cases (65057) is only 8.23% of the total confirmed cases, it is currently the national highest, closely followed by Maharashtra with 50,808. When it comes to the confirmed cases, while Kerala is at fifth with 7.90 lakh, with Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka bringing down their daily numbers Kerala is likely to reach third or even second before they can get the situation under control, opine experts.
Another severe criticism against the state lies in its testing mechanisms. Many state governments, including Tamil Nadu, have resorted to the highly accurate RT-PCR diagnostic tools to assess cases. Meanwhile, Kerala still allows the use of antigen tests that can sometimes confuse technicians regarding the infections, especially when it is a false negative. A false negative indicates that the negative result occurred despite the patient being positive. In such cases, the people might go back into society and spread the virus. There have also been allegations against the government that the authorities had done a minimal number of tests to bring the TPR down artificially. The only upside to the current Covid management is the fact that our mortality rate is very small despite the increase in case. It is currently at 0.41% with 3,209 deaths.
Kerala University Incident
Mismanagement of schedule is not surprising when it comes to the infamous Kerala University. However, the Covid protocol violation that occurred today cannot be, in good conscience, fully blamed on the parents and students. The University had arranged for spot admission to empty seats for all degree courses in all colleges had caused a serious situation in Thiruvananthapuram. The participants had to abandon all notions of Covid protocol and social distancing, as authorities did not even arrange for proper seating or timing. Police intervened and dismissed the event. The University authorities have said that they would announce the new dates later.
The Kerala University had welcomed all students, who have chosen colleges in Thiruvananthapuram (except for SC and ST students), for BA, BSc, and BCom courses on the same day. The timing was fixed from 8 am till 10 am, giving them a magical two-hour time to complete an impossible task. After the situation worsened and it garnered media attention, the organisers announced that the BSc admission would be scheduled in the afternoon, following which students and their parents, who came from far away, stayed within the campus. Seeing as how nothing changed, the police intervened and the event was scheduled for later.
Face Shields and Fake Sanitisers
Following the state government opening schools, the Education department has permitted principals to provide face shields to High School and Higher Secondary teachers. The principals can use fund from the school grant to procure the same. The order follows the rising Covid situation in Kerala.
Meanwhile, in Ernakulam’s Nedumbassery, a team under the leadership of the Drug Controller raided a fake sanitiser producing plant that has been operational since the lockdown began. Over 1,000 litres of the fraudulent product has been made each day and the producers had been marketing it under different brand names.