Kerala Flattened the Curve Once. With Cases Rising Faster the National Average, Can They Do It Again?


Kerala Flattened the Curve Once. With Cases Rising Faster the National Average, Can They Do It Again?

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Kerala was the first state in India to report a positive coronavirus case, even before the pandemic assumed its current, all-encompassing proportions and the country went into lockdown. Over the weeks that followed, Kerala’s model of containment and testing attracted praise, with the state’s Health Minister KK Shailaja being featured in international publications and the state’s effective response to tackling the virus being held up as an example for even developed nations like the United Kingdom. Kerala’s fatality rate compared to the rest of the country was also significantly lower. In the first week of May, Kerala’s state government even announced that it had managed to “flatten the curve”. However, the past few days have seen a resurgence in the number of Covid-19 cases in the state, proof that the coronavirus is tougher to eradicate than many previously thought.

Though the state of Kerala had managed to contain the spread of the virus through March and April, as lockdown restrictions were relaxed and natives of the state returned from overseas as well as other parts of India, the number of cases started to rise again. With an increase of more than 300 infections within a week, Kerala is growing at a rate faster than the national average, The Indian Express reported. In the last week, cases have gone up from 666 to 1,003.

Leaders of Kerala’s government have also pointed the finger at the mismanagement of how these migrants have been returned to the state, with Kerala’s Finance Minister Thomas Isaac claiming that trains arriving from Maharashtra did so without the state government being informed. Isaac went on to accuse the Railways of being a candidate to become a “super-spreader” in Kerala, due to the miscommunication leading to trains arriving without prior notification.

The state had identified accommodation and other facilities for more than two lakh incoming travellers back in April, Isaac wrote in The Indian Express. And these should help in containing the pandemic. The state government has also clarified that it will pay for migrants who cannot afford these quarantine facilities.

Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinari Vijayan has also taken note of the resurgence in the number of Covid-19 cases in his state. While Kerala had been one of the states leading the way in terms of tests administered per million in the past few months, in May, that number has dropped. But with cases on the rise, the CM has announced that the state now plans to ramp up its testing numbers in light of the latest developments.

During this pandemic, much has been written about the Kerala government’s capable response to the pandemic. Now it remains to be seen how it copes with this new hurdle.