Despite surge in COVID cases, Kerala manages to keep death rate low

With 73,855 cases on August 31, Kerala added 1.13 lakh in September alone. It now has a total of 3.17 lakh cases

COVID-19
A health worker takes a swab sample from a woman for COVID-19 testing | File Photo: PTI

Kerala, the state once lauded for its response to the pandemic, is now grappling with an increasing caseload of COVID-19 cases for the last one-and-a-half month. However, the state has still maintained the lowest death rate despite the sudden surge in infections.

The state has reported over a lakh cases in the last two weeks. On October 16, its tally stood at 3.17 lakh cases. With just 73,855 cases as on August 31, Kerala added 1.13 lakh in September alone. Another 1.3 lakh cases were added in the first 16 days of October.

The daily count of the cases in the state had reached an average of 9,000 cases over the last few weeks. This was even more than Maharashtra, the state worst-affected due to the pandemic. Kerala reported 11,755 cases in a single day on October 10 which had been the highest single-day spike for the state so far.

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Similarly, the active number of cases saw a four-fold jump in just one and a half months. It had 23,719 active cases as on August 31 and that increased to 94,609 by October 16.

About one-third of the total cases, recoveries as well as deaths were reported in the month of September while first half of October saw about 40% rise in cases as well as recoveries. One-third of the deaths were also reported during the first half of October.

One positive aspect to look at even during the toughest fight is the minimum number of fatalities. The state has managed to keep its death rate well below half per cent. Kerala’s 0.34% death rate is in contrast to the country’s average of 1.52%. Punjab has the highest death rate of 3.13%, as of October 16.

Increased Test Positivity Rate (TPR) is considered to be one of the reasons for the sudden spike in the number of cases. The TPR, which is the number of positive cases per hundred tested samples, of the state had been in the range of 15% for the last week.

Over the last week, the state reported TPR of above 12% every day. For India, the TPR had been in the range of 5 to 7% during the same period. On October 13, Kerala reported the highest TPR at 18.16% while India had the highest TPR of 7.54% on Monday during the same week. The state is the second-worst in terms of TPR followed by Maharashtra which is reporting values of about 20% daily.

Government officials have also attributed the sudden spike to the high population density in the state.

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