Though COVID-19 cases are surging in Kerala, death rate is 0.36 pc: K K Shailaja

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K K Shailaja | ANI photo

Thiruvananthapuram: Though Kerala is witnessing a spike in COVID-19 cases of late, there is a silver lining as the mortality rate was only 0.36 per cent, Health Minister K K Shailaja said as she praised the tireless efforts of Health workers and urged people not to overwhelm the healthcare system by their negligence.

Lauding the services of the health workers, Shailaja said it was due to their tireless service, the state could keep the state's death rate at 0.36 per cent despite a high number of cases.

"In the end all that matters is how we reduce the mortality rate. How many lives we could save. That's our aim. Our mortality rate is still below 0.4 per cent. The mortality rate of 0.36 is the best among the world," Shailaja noted.

The southern state had reported the country's first coronavirus case on January 30, a woman medical student who returned from Wuhan, the epicentre of deadly virus in China. The second and third cases were also wuhan returnees from the state and all the three had been successfully treated.

On May 8, after reporting a solitary case and with just 16 people under treatment, Kerala had announced that it had flattened the COVID-19 curve.

But as lockdown restrictions were lifted and people from abroad and other states started returning, positive cases started shooting up.

Five months later on October 7, Kerala's fresh infections crossed the grim mark of 10,000, taking the total infection count to over 2.5 lakh. On Friday, 9250 cases were reported as the infection tally crossed 2.66 lakh.

Experts had predicted that Kerala was likely to witness a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in August and September with daily infections expected to touch between 10,000 to 20,000.

Asked about the spike in cases, Shailaja told PTI that many people had failed to heed the health directions issued
during the Onam festivities, resulting in the spurt in cases.

Besides, "various political parties had also launched protests" without following the COVID protocol.

"There is a capacity for any health care system. Our department is working selflessly and efficiently for the past
eight to ten months so that the patient load will not exceed our system capacity.

That's why we request people not to gather and form a crowd. But some just roam around without heeding to our
requests," the minister said.

The Nodal officer of the state health department for communicable diseases, Dr Amar Fettle said the public need to
behave responsibly in public places.

Even though we have all the protocol in place, people should behave responsibly in public spaces. More than a
pharmaceutical vaccine, we need a behavioural vaccine. Behaviour is going to be the drug, the vaccine and the
prevention," Fettle told PTI.

He also hit out at various groups and organisations violating health protocol and said the state, the public and
the police are equally helpless.

"Followers of various groups uniformly are violating the health protocol. That's something of concern. Public is
watching, but is helpless. The state, the public and the police are equally helpless to do anything about it," Fettle

Only 50-60 per cent of the capacity of the government run Covid First Line Treatment Centre (CFLTC) is currently filled with patients and similar was the case with the ventilators in the state. But there have been instances of the elderly getting infected, and this may result in reaching the full capacity of ventilators. More ventilators and ICUs are being set up, he added.

Explaining the reason for the recent spike in cases, Shailaja said the chances of infection are higher when people
interact with each other and raise slogans in close quarters.

Such protests not only affected the health of the participants, but their families too.

"Chances of infection are higher when people interact with each other and raise slogans in close quarters. Such
protests also send out a wrong message to the people that gathering is acceptable.

The protests create a false security feeling among the people resulting in crowded places. Our actions should be an
example for others to follow the health protocol," she said.

She said the state was trying its best to keep the elderly people safe from the infection as they are a vulnerable group.

Narrating an incident of infection at an old-age home which was later declared as a CFLTC, she said doctors and
other necessary staff were posted there following which all lives could be saved.

"Where else will you get such treatment? Those people who criticise us do not know the gravity of the situation dealt
with by the health department.The public needs to cooperate in order to reduce the spread of the virus," Minister said.

Even though many have registered for the COVID brigade, a voluntary group of people, some have not joined, she said adding it was set up to enrol those interested to fight the pandemic for a salary.

"Numerous nurses and cleaning staff have joined the COVID brigade but not all doctors have joined the service. So we redeploy our staff," Shailaja said.

The Opposition Congress led UDF and the BJP had launched violent agitations against the government on various issues including demanding the resignation of Higher Education minister K T Jaleel, alleged corruption in Life Mission project at Wadakancherry in Thrissur.

Due to the increase in cases, UDF decided to halt its protests, but took a volte face, later and said it will continue its protests adhering to Covid protocol.The government has also clamped prohibitory orders till the end of this month in various districts as per which not more than five people can assembly at a place. PTI

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