Kerala Health Minister Veena George on Thursday claimed that there was a campaign going on to show the state had failed in Covid-control measures, India Today reported.
Kerala reported more than 22,000 cases for the third consecutive day on Thursday. The state’s test positivity rate, which is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus out of those who have been tested overall, rose to 13.53%. The Kerala government announced a weekend lockdown, while the Centre sent a six-member team to the state to help with Covid management.
The Kerala government had faced heavy criticism for easing restrictions for three days from July 18 in view of Eid-al-Adha, or Bakrid. The Supreme Court had also pulled up the state government but did not cancel its order to ease the lockdown.
In an interview to India Today on Thursday, the Kerala health minister said the government was making coordinated efforts to combat Covid-19.
“Even during those days [when the restrictions were eased], TPR [test positivity rate] was around 12%,” she told the news channel. “I’m sorry to say, and it’s unfortunate, that there is a campaign against the state to show that the system has failed. Experts even now say that the system in Kerala is very good. The population density in Kerala is very high.”
The Kerala health minister said the Delta variant of Covid-19 contributed to the surge in cases in the state. She added that Kerala was carrying out Covid-19 tests extensively.
“Yesterday [Wednesday], we did more than 1.96 lakh tests; today [Thursday], the number is more than 1.63 lakh,” George told the news channel. “We’re doing targeted tests. We test all primary, secondary and tertiary contacts. Chances are high that they will be positive. So, the TPR [test positivity rate] will be high.”
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George said that the results of the fourth countrywide serological survey showed that Kerala’s preventative measures were strong. According to the survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research, 44.4% of Kerala’s population has Covid-19 antibodies. The participants of the survey could have developed antibodies through infection or vaccination.
Kerala’s seroprevalence, which is the percentage of a population that has antibodies against an infectious agent, was the lowest of all states surveyed.
“We were successful in protecting our people from the virus” the Kerala health minister said. “Vaccination is the only solution and we’re doing it in the best possible manner.”
The Kerala health minister claimed no patient in the state had died because of lack of oxygen or hospital beds. “In January, we reported the maximum number of cases – almost 50% – in India,” she told India Today. “In Kerala, no patients died without oxygen, hospital beds or ICU facilities. Even in this phase, hospital occupancy is low. As I told you, we have a high testing rate and we’re doing targeted testing.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party has criticised Kerala’s Covid-19 response. On Thursday, BJP leader and Union minister V Muraleedharan claimed that the state’s formula to combat Covid-19 had failed, ANI reported.
“The number of cases [in Kerala] has increased to such an extent that now it is more than half of the total tally of the country,” the Union minister said. “The government did not follow scientific principles in the management of Covid-19.”
Muraleedharan added: “It’s a global pandemic, WHO [World Health Organization] and ICMR have issued guidelines. But the Kerala government has taken the stand that they follow their own principles and their own formula. Now it has come to light that their formula has failed.”
The Union minister accused the Kerala Government of using the Covid-19 pandemic for political gain.