COVID cases rise in Kerala despite vaccination in full swing

As on August 31, 74 per cent of the targeted adult population has been given the first dose and 27 per cent has been given both the doses, but daily case count hovers around 30,000

Despite the state health machinery’s best efforts, the number of new cases continues to rise. On September 1, Kerala recorded a test positivity rate (TPR) of 18.76 with 32,803 new cases.

Kerala’s Health Minister Veena George reached the district hospital at Chengannur in Pathanamthitta to meet Pushpalatha, a junior public health nurse, who created a record of sorts by vaccinating 893 people on a single day.

The minister congratulated Pushpalatha for her commitment and dedication and said people like her were the “pillars of Kerala’s healthcare system.”

Vaccination is on

Kerala’s vaccination drive has indeed been going on in full swing. The state has administered 88 lakh doses of vaccine in August.

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As on August 31, 74 per cent of the targeted adult population has been given the first dose and 27 per cent has received both the doses. About 90 per cent of the 45+ population has been vaccinated with single dose and 45 per cent are fully vaccinated. In the 18 to 45 category, roughly 53 per cent of the targeted population is inoculated.

But cases continue to rise…

Despite the state health machinery’s best efforts, the number of cases continues to rise. On September 1, Kerala recorded a test positivity rate (TPR) of 18.76 with 32,803 new cases. The TPR is high even in districts that have achieved more than 80 per cent vaccination coverage. As on September 1, the test positivity rate is 18 in Pathanamthitta, the district that has vaccinated 90 per cent population with the first dose. The test positivity rate in Wayanad district is 25 where 86 per cent of the targeted population has received the first dose.

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The ventilator /ICU occupancy also is on the rise. According to the COVID Jagratha portal of the state government, 64 per cent of ICU beds and 67 per cent of ventilators are occupied. However, the oxygen bed availability is still not a point of worry as 45 per cent of the beds remain vacant.

Health experts suggest that Kerala’s COVID curve will start coming down in two weeks if vaccination continues at this pace. “We guess that 15 to 20 per cent people might have got exposed to the Delta variant. Clubbing this with the vaccination coverage would bring the herd impact hopefully,” said K.P. Aravindan, one of the members of the expert committee advising the government on COVID management.

No dearth of jabs

Veena George said the state has no vaccine shortage. “We received 70 lakh doses of vaccine in August. In addition to this, the state has purchased 10 lakh doses,” said she said. According to the daily vaccination bulletin issued by the Directorate of Health Service, 86 per cent of the frontline workers and health workers have been fully vaccinated. Across 1,444 vaccination centres, 3 to 5 lakh people are being vaccinated a day, according to the Directorate of Health Service.

The state has revised its testing strategy as the vaccination progresses. The RT-PCR test has been made mandatory for all showing symptoms in districts that have achieved 80 per cent or above vaccination coverage. Earlier, the symptomatic individuals were allowed to go for either antigen or RTPCR test. The number of surveillance samples will be increased in such Districts with an objective to cover crowded places such as markets, shopping malls, offices and transit sites.

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