Ahead of the popular Thrissur Pooram festival in Kerala, which normally has large crowds in attendance, District Medical Officer (DMO) of Thrissur Dr KJ Reena has called for strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols to be followed. This is in light of a surge in COVID-19 cases across Kerala. The Pooram, an annual festival conducted at the Vadakkumnathan temple in Thrissur, is scheduled to be held on April 23 this year.
Dr Reena told TNM that while her authority does not extend to the conduct of the festival, she is concerned that the event could lead to a spike in cases if protocol is not followed. She added that the test positivity rate (TPR) for COVID-19, or percentage of total tests that return positive, has been steadily increasing in the state.
In March, the state government gave the go-ahead for the Pooram to be celebrated, but in a subdued manner. In 2020, the Pooram was cancelled for the first time in 58 years due to the pandemic. The festival attracts crowds from across Kerala and many parts of the country as well.
â€śMy stand is to conduct the festival by strictly following the protocol. I submitted the suggestion to the state health department in March. It was not just my own decision, but it was what the medical board had suggested,â€ť The DMO said, adding that discussions have been held multiple times with the Devaswom boards in this regard. â€śDirections also have been given to the Devaswoms to follow the protocol,â€ť she said.
â€śIn March, the TPR in Thrissur district had reduced to 1.8%, by strictly following the state guidelines for mitigating the pandemic. Now the TPR has increased to 9.4%, and as per the assessment of the state health department, this number will likely double in just 12 days. The assessment also predicts that the TPR could reach 20% well before the Pooram. If that happens, the situation in Kerala will get worse,â€ť Dr Reena warned.
On Sunday, 6,986 people tested positive for the coronavirus in Kerala. The state TPR stood at 10.75% on Sunday, with a total of 65,003 samples tested in 24 hours.