Next fortnight crucial for Kerala, says KIMSHEALTH consultant

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on August 10, 2021

People queuing outside government Ayurveda Hospital at Palakkad on Monday for Covid-19 vaccination   -  The Hindu

Infections not serious enough to warrant mass hospitalisation, says Dr Rajalakshmi Arjun

The coming week and the next will be crucial for Covid-ravaged Kerala with the test positivity rate (TPR) shooting well past the 15 per cent mark to almost 16 per cent (15.91 per cent) on Tuesday, and daily new infections counting in at 21,119 on a tested samples base of 1,32,769.

The enormity of the challenge must not be lost sight of, given the expected crowding ahead of the Onam season and even after, says Dr Rajalakshmi Arjun, who heads the Infectious Diseases Department at KIMSHEALTH, a leading quaternary care hospital group in the private sector.

‘Watching closely’

“We are closely watching the emerging situation. We’re basically look for the hospitalisation rate, the resource utilisation and reported deaths. We will have to keep a close watch this week and the next. As of now, the in-patient (IP) admissions are low,” the doctor told BusinessLine.

“At KIMSHEALTH, we have reached the lowest level of admissions last week in a year or more of the pandemic. The IP numbers have reduced to a fourth from the peak of 270 during the peak last year. We are down to 40-plus now. And this week, we will have to see what the trend is.”

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On Tuesday, the IP count was 52. When the TPR goes up like this, it has to translate into more admissions. But that has not happened so far. The slow build-up past 50 is not a day’s development either. “But if it picks up pace, then we may have a surge post-Onam or may be even before.”

Milder infections

Infections may be happening, but are not currently serious enough to warrant mass hospitalisation. If that is indeed the case, there’s no cause for major worry.

“In fact, that’s how it should be. This is how you achieve overall infection and immunity for those who are vaccinated or not. So, it may be assumed that so long as IP numbers don’t rise, we may sit tight and watch things evolve,” says Arjun.

It is here that vaccination rate can make a huge difference. The numbers and percentage of those vaccinated in certain districts are very good. “We find some of our booths empty or with few, if any, waiting. It could point to higher vaccination numbers achieved or vaccine hesitancy.”

One can well hazard a guess that at least in Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam districts, more than 60 per cent may have received the jabs. It would go up to 70 per cent when we consider the single dose. This can make for a vital difference when compared to the crunch period witnessed last year.

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“So, the first hint of whether we’re heading for a much-elevated plateau will come from the number of IPs reported during the next couple of weeks. This is because raised TPR levels will reflect in hospital admissions five to seven days from the day of diagnosis. Coming weeks will tell us what to expect.”

If the numbers increase, there is no option but revert to resource pooling of beds, oxygen or ventilators, said Arjun. “It is incumbent on us to strictly enforce Covid-related protocols on one hand and accelerate vaccinations so that the virus gets the better of us.”

Published on August 10, 2021

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