A surge in Covid-19 infections in the Indian state of Kerala triggered alarm, and the federal government appointed a six-member team from the National Disease Control Centre on Thursday to help local authorities contain a renewed outbreak of the disease.
India is second only to the United States in its total number of Covid-19 cases, with more than 31.5 million at the last count. According to official data, 422,662 people have died, many during a virulent second wave between April and June.
Since then, although the number of new infections has fallen nationwide, Kerala has reported a spike in cases over the past week. There were more than 22,000 new cases on Tuesday and Wednesday, making up around 37 per cent of India’s active cases.
The state government has announced a strict lockdown for Saturday and Sunday, when only emergency and essential services are allowed, alongside food vendors, grocery shops and telecom providers. Only long distance travel is permitted.
India’s first Covid-19 case was reported in Kerala, and the state was widely praised in 2020 for its management of the pandemic.
Scientists attribute the current spike to a range of factors, including the state’s decision to relax Covid-19 curbs for a week for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
State-level serological survey data showed that only 44 per cent of Keralans over the age of 6 had Covid-19 antibodies, compared to the national average of 67 per cent, meaning a significant proportion of the public is susceptible to the disease, the Indian Express newspaper reported.