REPEAT ATTACK
Down To Earth|November 16, 2020
Kerala’s struggle with the second wave of COVID-19 should serve as a warning to other states
K A SHAJI

THE STRIKE was highly unexpected. After all, Kerala had easily gained an upper hand over the novel coronavirus (covid-19) despite reporting the first positive case as early as on January 30. By April when the pandemic began tightening its grip on other parts of the country, it had flattened the curve. From higher literacy rates and a thriving grassroots democracy to robust healthcare infrastructure, experience in controlling the 2018 Nipah virus outbreak and an agile response to covid-19, all played a key role as Kerala emerged as a model in containing the pandemic.

KERALA HAS A HIGH POSITIVITY RATE, WHICH SUGGESTS TESTING IS LIMITED AND OFFICIALS ARE MOST LIKELY TO MISS NEW CHAINS OF TRANSMISSION IN THE COMMUNITY

But everything seems to be falling apart since September. The state started recording a spike in daily cases early October and it peaked by the third week of the month. Though daily case coint started a downward trend in November, the state was only behind Maharashtra—the state with highest number of infections. Its caseload was 12,329 per million population in the first week of November, which is more than the double of the national average.

“The state is currently focusing on containing the death rate,” says K K Shailaja, Minister of Health and Social Justice in Kerala (see “We need to be alert till November” p15). The death rate was 0.35 per cent on November 3, which was substantially lower than 7.7 per cent in May (see “Is second wave less fatal?”, p17).

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