Giving out the number of hospitals, beds and ventilators prepared in the state to fight COVID-19, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan gave assurances that there is no need to worry about the spike in the number of new cases these days. On Friday, the state has reported 62 more cases, 56 of these coming from people who have returned from other countries and states. One person got it through contact. But in the case of five others – two prisoners, two from an airplane cabin crew and one health worker – the source of the disease is not yet known.
However, there is no need to fear a community spread, the CM reiterated, rattling out the number of tests done so far. As many as 62,746 regular tests have been done so far. In addition, the sentinel surveillance of priority groups has tested 11,468 samples, out of which 10,635 have turned negative. There is also the augmented test, collecting samples from a wide category of people including health workers, media, vegetable and fruit sellers, labourers, migrant workers, people who have returned to the state from red zone areas.
“We have followed the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) instruction in testing people. In every 100 tests done in Kerala, 1.7 people turn positive, which means the Test Positive Rate or TPR is 1.7%. The national TPR is 5%. All the countries are trying to bring it below 2% while Kerala has already achieved that. In addition, the Case Fatality Rate (percentage of people who die from the disease) for the state, is 0.5%. If both the TPR and the CFR are high, it means enough tests are not being done. Our numbers are proof of our efficient public health system – including contact tracing and scientific quarantine,” CM Pinarayi said.
The state has had a total of 1,151 cases so far, 577 of whom are under treatment now, and nine people have passed away.
The CM said that there are 1,296 government hospitals with 49,802 beds, 12,191 isolation beds, 1,369 ICU beds, and 145 ventilators. There are 866 private hospitals with 81,904 beds, 6,059 ICU beds and 1,578 ventilators. There are also 851 corona care centres. Currently, only around 1,000 people are under observation in hospital for fear of infection.
Kannur has the most number of active cases, with the number of people getting it through contact, being much more than the state average. “The number of people who have got the disease through contact since May 10 is 65. That means 10.09% of the patients got it through contact. But in Kannur this is 20%, with 93 active cases, and 19 of them got the disease through contact. Stricter restrictions will have to be put in place, including the planning of a triple lockdown if there is a need,” CM Pinarayi said.
He also noted that despite the outbreak of a pandemic, the number of deaths in the state is considerably less -- 20,000 plus -- this year, compared to the same period last year. “Last year, the number of deaths in the state from January 1 to May 15 was 93,719. This year it is 73,155. The first case of COVID-19 in the state was reported in the end of January. If there was indeed a community spread, this would not be the situation,” he said.
The CM however warned of other contagious diseases that arise during the monsoon including dengue, H1N1, leptospirosis and pneumonia.
Remembering how Kerala is a state that has declared the right to internet as a fundamental right, CM Pinarayi spoke about a project that would provide free internet to the poor and internet at affordable rates to others. “It is called KFON and is a project of the Kerala Fibre Optic Network. It will be a 1,500 crore rupee project. It will be done by a consortium including two Central government companies – Bharat Electronics Limited and RailTel Corporation – and a private company LS Cables. The project – which will also provide quality internet to public institutions – is expected to be complete in December. The Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited and the Kerala State Electricity Board will also come together for the project.”