92% of the COVID-19 cases in Kerala are among those who have come to the state from outside, with Maharashtra accounting for the highest share.
Out of the 557 active COVID-19 cases in Kerala as of Friday, 512 are found in those who have arrived in the state as part of the inter-state and international movement of people since the lifting of the Coronavirus lockdown in early May, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Within this 512, about 175 are from outside the country, around 150 each from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and the remaining from other states.
Among the 45 cases reported among locals, 28 are healthcare workers and those who are part of the social welfare department of the government, such as ASHA workers.
The remaining 17 cases include family members of people who came from outside the state, raising some concern.
According to the strict norms laid down by the state government, family members of people who come from outside are not supposed to interact closely with the arrivals.
The utensils, clothes and other articles used by those who have come from outside are not supposed to be handled by people from the household. Moreover, all interaction with those who have come from outside has to happen with only a single, designated member of the local household.
However, such rules are not always observed very closely.
Because of this, the virus can ‘jump’ from the infected person to a family member.
However, what is more worrying is that the chain of transmission will not stop within the family.
Because the lockdown has now been withdrawn for all intents and purposes, these family members in turn move around quite a bit, often going to shops, using public transport and visiting neighbors.
This can lead to further onward transmission of the virus in a manner that is almost impossible to trace back and contain — leading to what is called community transmission.
Pinarayi Vijayan has himself said that the state is at the brink of community transmission, and people must take all precautions to prevent it.
RAMPING UP TESTS
Kerala has also ramped up the number of COVID-19 tests conducted in recent days.
From just around 55,000 tests as of last week, the total has now crossed the 80,000 mark.
For every case of COVID-19 infection detected in the state, Kerala has done 71 tests, Vijayan pointed out.
Agencies such as WHO suggests that for every positive case, the state must do at least 50 extra tests to keeping things under control.
However, most states in India are not doing enough tests, going by this criteria. The national average is only 23 tests for every positive case.
The number is especially low in Maharashtra, where only 7 extra persons are tested for every positive case found, and in Gujarat, where only 12.5 extra persons are tested for every positive case found.
Even in Tamil Nadu, the state which has conducted the largest number of tests, the ratio is 23 tests for every positive case.
DECLINE IN DEATH RATES
Kerala also saw a sharp decline in total deaths during the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
During the period from Jan 1 to May 15, the state had seen 93,711 deaths last year, while this year, it has seen only 73,155 deaths, according to the chief minister.
He did not give a break-up for lock-down period, which began in early March in the state.