TPR zooms to 11,39 per cent. No evidence of new variant, says Health Minister
Daily new Covid-19 cases have topped 1,000 in Kerala for five days at a stretch, with the number crossing 1,500 on Saturday and test positivity rate (TPR) breaking into double-digits (11.39 per cent) for the first time in three months, even as authorities do not find evidence of a new variant fuelling the latest surge.
TPR at 11.39 per cent
The daily number crossed 1,000 on May 31 and has not looked back since. The TPR reached 8.54 per cent on May 30 itself and has grown steadily to 11.39 per cent on Saturday. The seven-day average of TPR is at 8.95 per cent. For the country as a whole, the number of active cases are the highest in Kerala (8,290), leaving second-ranked Maharashtra (5,888) by a huge margin, followed by Karnataka (2,260) and Delhi (1,467).
Genomic sequencing studies have not found any new variants in circulation, according to Health Minister Veena George, who attributed the current surge to the Omicron variant. It is now more or less clear that the virus will continue to be around for a while, and hence people should learn to live with it.
‘Live with virus’
She emphasised that all Covid-19 protocols must be followed and reverse quarantine implemented if only to protect the elderly and vulnerable from new infections. The minister’s statement comes in the backdrop of fears that laxity in observing Covid-appropriate behaviour, including the use of masks and sanitising, may be driving the current surge.
High-level meeting held
A high-level meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday reviewed the situation in each district and found that cases are rising in Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam. The minister appealed to all those who had not taken the second dose of the vaccine to oblige immediately. Healthcare workers should take the precaution dose without fail.
The meeting pointed out the need to get as many people as possible to test for Covid-19. It took on record evidence of resistance against the second dose and the precaution dose. The second dose vaccination has only reached 88 per cent of the eligible population, while only 22 per cent have taken the precaution dose.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had written to Rajan Khobragade, Principal Secretary (Health), on Friday expressing concern over the rise in Covid cases in 11 out of 14 districts. He emphasised the need to implement and monitor necessary steps for effectively managing the situation, focusing on Covid-appropriate behaviour and closely tracking the clustering of new cases.
Detect early signals
An adequate number of tests must be carried out while influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory infections need to be monitored regularly to detect early warning signals on the spread of infection. Genomic sequencing of samples, including those from sentinel sites and local case clusters, must be persisted to identify a possible new virus variant.