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Kerala is set to become the second Indian state after Maharashtra to record one million Covid-19 cases. The state, which has been averaging more than 5,000 fresh cases every day since mid-December, was less than 500 short of the grim milestone on Saturday.
Kerala has been reporting the highest daily count of new cases among all states consistently since January 4. On several days, the state has accounted for nearly half of all fresh cases detected in the country. It is the only state in India where the weekly tally of cases has not shown an overall decline since the second week of November. The state’s case count stands at 9,99,524 and it has over 46% of all active cases in the country — 63,581 out of nearly 1,37,000.
Despite this, Kerala continues to report the lowest case fatality rate (CFR) in the country at 0.4%, with only two-three much smaller states in the northeast doing better. By contrast, Punjab’s CFR is over 3.2%, Maharashtra’s is 2.5% and the national average is a little over 1.4%. CFR is the percentage of infected people who have succumbed to the virus.
Kerala has recorded 3,970 deaths so far, less than the official Covid toll in nine other states, most with much lower case loads. For instance, Punjab has registered just over 1.75 coronavirus cases so far but there have been at least 5,688 deaths from the virus in the state. Madhya Pradesh has recorded nearly the same number of deaths (3,829) as Kerala while logging just one-fourth (257,423) of the southern state’s case count.
Maharashtra has by far the highest death toll from the pandemic at 51,489, followed by Tamil Nadu (12,413), Karnataka (12,263) and Delhi (10,889).
One explanation being given by some experts on Kerala’s peculiar Covid curve is that it may be capturing a higher proportion of the actual number of infections than most other states. Also, Kerala may have achieved greater success in curbing the pandemic when it was peaking in India from July to September.
This is borne out from the lower prevalence of antibodies — which indicates past infection — in the state’s population. In the latest serological survey in India carried out in December and January, antibodies to Covid-19 were found in 11.6% of Kerala’s population, as opposed to a national average of 21.5%.
Meanwhile, India recorded 12,166 fresh cases on Saturday, around the same tally as the previous day (12,149). The day’s death toll, however, dropped to 86 despite a slight rise in fatalities in Maharashtra (38). India had recorded 104 deaths from the virus on Friday.