Onam holiday hits COVID-19 sample testing in Kerala

Deccan Chronicle.  | Smitha N

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932 patients contracted infection through local transmission while the source of 158 cases is still unknown

A person dressed as king Mahabali greets people on the occasion of Onam outside the Kerala Secretariat in Tiruvananthapuram. — PTI photo

Kerala, which has been registering more than 2000 COVID-19 cases per day in the last few days, reported only 1140 fresh cases on Tuesday, much lower than the figures reported in recent weeks. The downward graph reflects the sharp dip in the number of samples sent for testing.  

The sample testing rate nosedived during the Onam festival holidays bringing the number of daily fresh cases to the lowest. While the number of tests done daily before Onam days was 35,000 to 40,000, only 14137 samples were tested on Tuesday, the lowest in the recent past. In the last couple of days, the number of samples tested was less than 20,000.

Of the 1140 new cases reported on Tuesday, 932 patients contracte the infection through local transmission while the source of 158 cases is still unknown.  The number of recoveries as per Tuesday’s data is 2111.

However, the state is likely to witness a big surge in the number of fresh cases once the sample testing activities are restored to normal. “A surge in the number of fresh cases is expected in next few weeks as the public failed in maintaining the pandemic protocol like social distancing during the Onam festivities. As more than 90 per cent of the fresh cases are locally transmitted, the failure in complying with the health protocol in public places will reflect in the case graph in coming days,” said sources with the health department.

Total cases crosses 75,000 mark with 298 deaths

The state which attained global accolades for successful pandemic control and management measures in the initial phase is now witnessing an escalating trend of the pandemic with no signs of downward graph seen in near future. According to a section of health experts, the state is likely to have peaking of the infection by November.

The total number of cases in the state stands at 76525 while the number of deaths due to the virus infection is 298. The number of recoveries is 53653. However, the fatality rate in the state is still very low compared to the national average and other states. Kerala’s fatality rate is only 0.37 per cent.

Health minister K. K Shailaja had earlier warned of the chances for sharp increase in the number of new infections in August and September. The state might report daily infections of 10,000 to 20,000 in August and September, the minister had said quoting experts.