COVID cases spike, but Kerala wants to reopen schools

COVID cases spike, but Kerala wants to reopen schools

Kerala is planning to reopen schools, especially the primary section, at a time when the state is making news for its spiralling COVID cases. On Thursday (September 2), Kerala reported 32,097 new cases and 188 deaths which pushed the total infection count to 41,22,133 and the fatalities to 21,149.

The test positivity rate (TPR) is 18.41 per cent.

With a third wave of the pandemic looking imminent, many are questioning the wisdom behind the idea to open schools, even as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan called a high-level online meeting on the matter on Wednesday evening, where international experts weighed in with their views.

“Risk is the lowest at primary schools,” veteran virologist T Jacob John, who was part of the meeting, was quoted as saying by IANS. Many other scientists and experts have recently opined that a third COVID wave may hit children more than adults in India.

“The general opinion was, it is time that primary schools are opened because there is no major issue if a 15-year-old child misses a year of school, but it’s not the same if a toddler who gets ready to begin his education, as any impediment in cognitive development in the first part of a child’s education career can cause trouble,” John added, pointing out that “today kids and children are presently locked up in homes and while at home none wears a mask, but when in school or outside, all wear masks”.

Kerala is setting up a panel of experts to study the circumstances in the state and advise on the matter of reopening schools. A final decision will be taken by the CM.

Also read: Is COVID vaccination must for all children? Doctors seek more data

The state has been showing a positivity rate of above 18 per cent. India also reported more than 47,000 cases, a surge of 12 per cent over the previous day, and the biggest single-day rise in two months. More than 500 deaths were recorded. Kerala made up about 70 per cent of India’s new cases and a third of deaths.

John seemed to hint that the projected third wave of COVID is a myth. “Many know the reason for this, but without having proper records, those who know about it are not revealing,” he reportedly said.

If a third wave hits India, it is likely to peak in the months of October-November and may see cases shooting towards a lakh a day.

“Status Quo is when no new mutant comes and New Variant is when 50% more infectious mutant comes by September. As one can see, the only scenario with some semblance of the third wave is New Variant one for epsilon = 1/33. In this scenario, new cases rise to ~1 lakh per day,” Manindra Agrawal, an IIT-Kanpur scientist part of a team of experts modelling COVID data and predicting a surge in infections, said in a tweet.

With memories of the devastating second wave fresh in mind, and fears of new COVID variants, India is already firming up its healthcare facilities, especially paediatric ones, and ramping up vaccination efforts.

Also read: India’s COVID R-value rises to 1.17, driven by Kerala, Maharashtra

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