Celebrated as a success story in the spread of corona virus outbreak in India, Kerala, with its confirmed cases crossed one million on Sunday. It is the second state after Maharashtra to register so many cases.
On Sunday, 4,611 new infections were reported in the state, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 1,004,135 (ten lakh four thousand one hundred and thirty-five). That means one in every 35 people in the state has been diagnosed with the virus so far. For the whole of India, this figure would be about one in 135 people.
In other words, Kerala has diagnosed 30,000 infections per million people. Only Delhi, Goa and Ladakh have high numbers.
The state currently has the highest number of active cases, almost half of the entire country. As of Sunday, there were 63,484 cases out of a total of 1.37 lakh in the state. On most days of the year, the government contributes 45 to 45 percent of the country’s innovations.
Under criticism, after being initially praised, the Kerala government points to a relatively low number of deaths to argue that its main focus is on avoiding deaths and serious illnesses, and ultimately that is important, not the number of infections. While it is true that Kerala has a relatively low mortality rate of 0.4 (four out of every 1,000 victims) (the number of confirmed positive cases is the number of deaths), if we take the population into account that number is not so flattering.
Kerala has so far reported 4,033 corona virus-related deaths, including 48, which the government has classified as the cause of the disease. This would account for about 120 deaths per million people in the state. This is the equivalent of India as a whole. While many states including Delhi, Maharashtra, Andhra and Tamil Nadu are the worst, many big states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh or West Bengal have very interesting statistics.
Kerala has witnessed a very unusual path of epidemic in the country. It was the first state in India to be diagnosed with the corona virus on January 30 last year. For the next six months, it appeared to be a model state in terms of distribution. Despite the increase in infections in other parts of the country, very few cases have been reported in Kerala. For several days in the first half of May, when the lock was relaxed for the first time, it led to an increase in cases in several states, with Kerala declaring zero cases. Its daily count was within 100 from the first week of June. Meanwhile, Maharashtra started reporting more than 2,000 cases a day, while states like Delhi and Tamil Nadu are detecting more than 1,000 cases every day.
But then came the turning point, with a staggering increase in the number of cases pending in Kerala to date. On September 11, Kerala became the 13th state to have over one lakh corona virus cases. At that time, more than 5.5 lakh cases were reported in Andhra Pradesh, five lakh in Tamil Nadu and 4.5 lakh in Karnataka. States like Bihar, Orissa, Telangana, Assam and Gujarat are even more advanced than Kerala. Kerala continued to grow, though all other states began to cut back in the third week of September.
As of October 10, 11,755 cases had been registered in a single day. No state other than Maharashtra has detected so many cases in a single day.
On most days of this year, Kerala has contributed 45 to 50 per cent of the country’s innovations.
Interestingly, there is no good explanation for what is happening in Kerala. The credible explanations given are not very conclusive. Since Kerala was able to control the spread in the early period, it was in a very large proportion of the uninfected population, thus becoming vulnerable to the virus. Or, because Kerala is almost urbanized, cases are reported from every corner of the state, unlike many states where reporting from the countryside is not very strong. Or, people may be more irresponsible in wearing masks and following physical distance rules compared to other states.
India’s detection of new cases has been steadily declining since mid-September. Daily numbers have dropped from a peak of more than 98,000 to 10,000 to 13,000. But the decline has stagnated over the past two months, with Kerala and Maharashtra reporting a steady rate of new numbers, accounting for almost 70 per cent of all cases in the country. In fact, in the last few days, Maharashtra is showing signs of increasing indeed. On Sunday, more than 4,000 cases were reported in the state for the first time in more than a month. Kerala has been reporting 5,000 to 6,000 cases a day since the beginning of this year.