Jan 21 Amidst a worsening Covid-19 scenario in Kerala, the conduct of party conferences by the ruling CPI (M) has invited the wrath of political parties, who have alleged that organising such meetings in these critical times had led to the spread of the virus.

Especially at a time Kerala when holds the dubious distinction of leading the country with a TPR of above 40 per cent, and its daily caseload hits an all-time high of 43,529. The number of active cases was approaching the two-lakh-mark, with 1,99,041 patients as on Thursday. Medical experts pointed out that the rising number of cases was the result of increased testing at over a lakh in the past 24 hours.

The Congress and BJP have blamed the government for holding party meetings flouting all Covid norms and allowing more people than the maximum of 50, as per the protocol for closed door meetings. However, the ruling government defended the meetings, saying they were conducted in a scientific way, adopting measures to fight Covid, including wearing masks and social distancing.

Responding to concerns on the rising cases, the State Health Minister, Veena George, said the number of cases of hospitalisation were comfortably low at three per cent, while 0.7 per cent of the cases needed medical oxygen and 0.6 per cent ICU facilities. The use of ventilators at government hospitals had also come down to less than two per cent. There is no need to panic and the government has introduced cluster management guidelines. Business establishments have been asked to appoint Inspection Control teams which would be given special training by the Health Department.

Strict measures

The overnight spike in cases – suspected to be on account of the Omicron and Delta variants – has forced the Government to take strict measures, allowing essential services only on the next two Sundays. However, the government has also refrained from imposing a total lockdown or a night curfew or reducing the business hours in shopping establishments for the time being.

Rajeev Jayadevan, Vice-Chairman, IMA (Kerala) Research Cell, said the recent specialised PCR-based analyses has shown a high percentage of Omicron cases and official confirmation of the genomic profile is awaited. Larger studies would provide more accurate information. Most cases in the third wave were asymptomatic or mildly so. This clinical profile was similar to that of Omicron reported from elsewhere.

Lung-related infection was remarkably lower, which is most likely the result of excellent vaccination coverage and prior infection with Delta. Some studies suggest that the interaction between the Omicron variant and the cell are slightly different from that of Delta, Jayadevan said.

It was noticed in other countries that the wave had a steep rise, followed by a steep fall. “We will watch the pattern as it evolves in Kerala, keeping in mind that immunity occurring from natural infection is relatively lower in the State, although vaccination coverage is very high,” he said.