The Kerala Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA), in its report submitted to the state government, has said that the Covid-19 cases in the state may peak in September with 5,000-8,000 cases per day. Once the state starts to witness 5,000 cases daily, the number of active cases would touch 50,000 to 70,000 in another 10 days as the state has an average recovery time of 10 to 14 days.
As of Thursday evening, the state has reported a total of 22,303 COVID-19 positive cases and 12,163 people have been recovered. While 10,070 cases are still active in the state, 70 people have succumbed to the virus so far.
The Health Department’s estimate, however, says that by mid-September, there will be around 40,000- 45,000 patients with mild or moderate symptoms requiring regular monitoring. Around 3% of these may require ICU treatment.
The fear of ICUs getting overcrowded is also increasing as 13% of the total population of the state is aged. Also, the state has a high number of people with lifestyle diseases and they are generally more vulnerable to the virus.
As of now, more than 60% of cases are asymptomatic according to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. But the number of increasing asymptomatic cases increases the possibility of the silent spread of the virus.
“The interventions being made now are key to ensure that the clusters are contained and the community spread is being slowed down by testing, isolating patients and restricting the movement of people,” a senior health official was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
A state-level health expert committee headed by Dr B Ekbal, however, recommended more tests in cluster areas, nearby towns, markets, and at people’s gatherings. The committee has also recommended dividing the state into three zones: North, Central, and South.
“It is inevitable. The government had enough time for preparation but financial constraints are a limitation. Now with the cases surging, the onus is on people to strictly ensure reverse quarantine, wear masks and maintain social distancing even at home,” said Dr Raman Kutty, a public health expert from the state, while speaking to Times of India.
“There are two concern areas that need immediate attention- human resources and strengthening of ICUs in government medical colleges. The government is working on them,” said Dr Santhosh Kumar SS, Deputy Medical Superintendent of Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.
In the process of expanding the facilities, the state government has already made arrangements to treat around 50,000 COVID-19 patients at a time, doubling the first-line treatment centres to 56.
Earlier, State Health Minister KK Shailaja had expressed confidence that the government can manage such a situation with the measures being taken by it.
“We already have two COVID-19 hospitals in each district. Then as the number increased, we opened one FLTC for each COVID hospital. Thus, we already have 28 FLTCs. Now, we have given direction to increase the number to 56. That is one COVID hospital will have two FLTCs," Shailaja had told PTI.
As per the directions of the government, each of the 941 panchayats has opened at least one FLTC where a special medical team is to take care of asymptomatic patients or those with lesser complications.
Some FLTCs have up to 500 beds and at least 2,000 people can be accommodated in each of the 14 districts in the state. The idea of FLTC is to decongest medical college hospitals where seriously ill patients can be treated.
Along with FLTCs, the state has also taken steps to form a ‘Covid Brigade’ to lead preventive measures across the state. The Covid Brigade will be formed by mobilising additional manpower other than the health department staff and will consist of doctors, nurses, and volunteers.
“More people are needed to strengthen COVID preventive operations because of the rising number of positive cases. We have worked out an integrated action plan. In addition to the staff in the Health Department, more contract health workers, including those from the National Health Mission, will be appointed. The Covid Brigade should be seen as an army that includes doctors, nurses, volunteers etc.,” CM Pinarayi Vijayan had said earlier during one of his daily press conferences.