Kerala could see up to 20,000 COVID-19 cases daily by September, warns Health Minister

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Health Minister K K Shylaja has warned that there might be an unprecedented increase in the spread of coronavirus in the state by September and called for extreme caution.

She cited reports by experts to say that the daily case load could rise up to reach anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000, which would be accompanied by a steep increase in the number of COVID-19 deaths. The state currently has one of the lowest death rates.

The minister said that the situation is alarming and that the state government plans to form health brigades to help in containing the spread of the disease. Currently the state has over 13,000 coronavirus patients undergoing treatment.

The southern state's case load has remained low in comparison to other states. However, it has been consistently increasing during the past few days. In fact, the state recorded the highest spike so far on Thursday, when the total number of cases for the day crossed 1,500. In Thiruvananthapuram district alone, the number of new cases touched 434. Out of this, as many as 428 cases were due to infection from contacts.

This is the case with most districts of the state, which indicates that community spread of the virus is growing. Community spread has been confirmed in the coastal areas of the district.

Meanwhile, the expert committee set up by the state government has flagged discrepancies in the number of COVID-19 deaths put out by the government, strengthening complaints that the number is being doctored to show a lower casualty figure.

The committee has questioned the system of accounting for COVID-19 deaths, as those who die from other ailments are not being included in the COVID-19 statistics. This is in violation of the World Health Organization's norm of classifying deaths under the COVID-19 category if the first or second reason for death is the virus, irrespective of other health issues.

The committee has warned that COVID-19 cases in the state would peak by September and that the number of patients could go up to 75,000. Dr B Iqbal, who heads the panel, said in an interview that by October the spread could reach a plateau.

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