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Critical ‘inter-wave’ period in Kerala warrants caution, say doctors

Vinson Kurian/V Sajeev Kumar Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi | Updated on July 30, 2021

A mass Covid test in Kozhikode

‘Leverage low prevalence, severity to co-exist with high Covid numbers’

Community medicine experts in Kerala are of the view that the high Covid numbers in the State do warrant caution given the elevated R (reproduction) value.

The State is in a critical ‘inter-wave’ period that could act as a bridge to a potential third wave but there is still no hard evidence of it emerging, nor do the numbers suggest variants evolving from the high numbers. But another view is that this period affords Kerala the window to live with some high numbers brought home by the Delta variant due to the low sero-prevalence and fewer hospital/ICU admissions.

R-value highest for Kerala

Kerala now has the highest number of active cases and continues to have an R-value around 1.11. The smaller the value of R, the faster the decline in the disease spread. Conversely, if R is greater than one, then the number of infected people is increasing in each round, setting up the epidemic phase.

Fathahudeen, Covid Treatment Lead, Medical College, Ernakulam, said the second wave had plateaued, but is now showing an upward trend. The current mutant in circulation is more transmissible and the density of population is fuelling the spread.

“I have a feeling that the current wave may intensify, before flattening in the next 2-3 weeks. But I also suspect that the third wave may hit the State during the first week of September,” he told BusinessLine.

Crucial ‘inter-wave’ period

Airing similar views, PS Indu, Professor in Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Thrissur, said that it all would depend ‘on what we do during the critical inter-wave period’ which Kerala is now in. Slackening of activities to ‘interrupt the transmission’ can bring the next wave closer.

“This is where you need to be cautious about the destructive R-factor. There’s always a potential for things to snowball,” she said. There’s no evidence of mutants emerging from the higher numbers just yet, but the interruption of transmission is important for several other reasons.

Avoid another ‘lock’

TS Anish, Assistant Professor, Community Medicine, Government Medical College, said the high numbers are best left as they are. “If we go crunching them beyond a point, we will invariably find the need for another lockdown with drastic implications for the economy.”

Kerala can hope to live with the high numbers by leveraging the twin advantages of low sero-prevalence and hospital admissions. “We merely need to monitor if these numbers get translated into severe cases and hospital admissions,” Anish said.

Liquor shops shuttered

High test positivity rate (TPR) in Ernakulam forced the district administration to close down all liquor shops and beer and wine parlours. The district reported 2,359 cases as on Thursday, taking the total number of cases to 12,910.

Of the 40 liquor outlets in the district owned by Bevco (monopoly state distributor), 32 were ordered shut.

Published on July 30, 2021

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