Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala recorded its highest ever daily Covid cases of over 18,000, signalling a new spike in infection that is threating to throw the state’s health system out of gear. A bigger worry is that the test positivity rate (TPR) of 16.7, which is also the highest.
In the acutely affected districts of Ernakulam and Kozhikode, the rate has crossed even the dangerous level of 20 percent. The two districts have also recorded more than 2,000 new cases per day. Another five districts have over 1,000 new cases for the day.
The big spike is the result of a drive for mass testing, which the state government has launched in the couple of days, targeting at least 100,000 tests per day. As part of this, over 3 lakh samples were collected on Friday and Saturday.
With more results of the mass testing expected in the next few days, the daily case load is expected to hit the feared 25,000, which is expected to put the health infrastructure to great strain. The state has also launched a parallel mass vaccination drive, for which the government has sought additional vaccine supplies from the Centre.
The state is also experiencing a shortage of life-saving medicines, including Ramedesivir and the government procurement company is seeking to get the supplies directly from the manufacturers.
Adding another element of uncertainty is the Thrissur Pooram, the rituals of which have already opened and preparations are in full swing for the rest of the programmes, including the grand finale, which generally attracts lakhs of enthusiasts.
The temple Deveswoms associated with the Pooram want those who have already taken one dose of Covid vaccine to be allowed to join the celebrations, while the health authorities are insisting on the second dose as eligibility.
The Devasoms also want mahouts of the elephants taking part in the Kudamattam show to be exempted from RTPCR test for allowing the elephants to participate, as per the approved protocol. The Devaswom authorities are alleging a move to scuttle the world famous Pooram and claim that the restrictions are part of such a plan.
Chief secretary V P Joy is holding a meeting on Monday to take stock of the situation and take a decision.
Meanwhile, some 30 cultural personalities have issued an appeal to cancel this year’s edition of the Pooram in view of the dangerous pandemic situation and cite instances in the past when in times of war and famines the show was cancelled.
With the issue assuming political dimensions, the authorities are caught up in a ticklish situation, where a decision has to be taken after weighing all important aspects, including the feelings of the Pooram enthusiasts, who are highly emotional about their annual event.