Data | Kerala's recent COVID-19 surge explained

In August, average daily tests in Kerala reduced despite the consistent rise in the average daily test positivity rate

Kerala is again witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Now, every six out of 10 new cases in India are from Kerala. While cases have been gradually increasing since July, a sharp spike in infections was recorded after Onam ended. Testing levels sharply declined during the 10-day-long festival even as public mobility increased. The sudden drop in testing came despite an increasing test positivity ratio, which meant that many infections were missed during the festival period. As tests were ramped up after the festival, the daily cases also recorded a sharp spike. More worryingly, the number of hospitalised patients who are in a critical condition is also rising in the State.

Rising share

Kerala’s share in India’s average new cases consistently increased between June 1 and August 28. As on August 28, 64.2% of India’s average new cases were from Kerala. The chart shows the seven-day rolling average of new cases in Kerala and its contribution in India’s average new cases.

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Factor of testing

New cases in Kerala have been rising since July. However, they were accompanied by an increase in tests too. While the rise was arrested to some extent between Aug. 1 and 22, cases began to increase again as a result of a sharp drop in daily tests during Onam. After the festival, tests were once again ramped up, which led to a sharp spike in daily cases. The chart shows the seven-day rolling average of new cases and daily tests.

Rising test positivity

In August, average daily tests in Kerala reduced despite the consistent rise in the average daily test positivity rate (TPR – positive cases per 100 tests). It was 12.33% on Aug. 7 (the day tests started decreasing) and 16.03% on Aug. 22. This means that a lot of infections would have been missed while testing. After daily testing increased, the TPR continued to increase and stood at 17.86% on Aug. 28, as many previously unidentified cases would have been captured.

Increased mobility

The chart depicts the change in daily public mobility in Kerala between January and August 2021 compared to the median value for the corresponding day of the week during the five-week period from Jan 3 to Feb 6, 2020. There was a marked increase in public mobility during the period when Onam was celebrated in the State. People’s visits to grocery and pharmacy stores and parks, and retail and recreation activities, surged in the period. Grocery and park visits recorded their highest levels since January this year, compared to the baseline.

Critical patients

Lately, the number of patients in ICU and ventilator support is also increasing. As on Aug. 28, 2,179 patients were admitted in the ICU while 883 were on ventilator support.

Source: covid19india.org, Kerala State COVID-19 dashboard, Google Mobility Index

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