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Kerala underplays 4th wave doubts, though uptick in cases is on cards

- June 20, 2022

Dileep V Kumar, Thiruvananthapuram, June 19

Amid speculations of the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, Kerala is expecting more single-day spikes in the coming days. The state health department is of the assessment that even if a fresh wave occurs it will not have a public health impact unless a new variant results in hospitalizations and deaths. Meanwhile, as a contingency measure hospitals were asked to revisit the strategy of categorizing patients as mild, moderate, and severe and ensure necessary facilities for dealing with the same.

“As of now, we are unaware of the fourth wave. But the state will certainly have a high number of cases due to the transmission of Omicron sub-lineages. But that may not result in a public health problem as those who are getting infected have a mild disease,” said Dr TS Anish, a public health expert and a member of the state’s experts’ committee on Covid-19.

The state is witnessing an uptick in cases since May 31. The number of cases that have been hovering around the 1000 figure mark, first jumped to the 2000 mark and then to the 3000 mark.

The state on Monday had 2609 new cases. The active case tally as of June 19 is 22,278. With Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram having the most – 6189 and 4678 active cases.

According to infectious disease expert Dr Ishwar Gilada, mild cases will come and go and the transmission will not be a concern so long as oxygen and bed requirements remain low.

“It has been noted that those who are having comorbidities succumb to Covid. They will have to remain cautious. Otherwise, this Omicron and its sub-lineages are just like the flu,” said Ishwar.

The other day, the World Health Organization’s India situation report that analyzed the Covid situation for the last two months in India highlighted that Omicron has been the dominant variant with 98.4 percent, and BA.2 is the major sub-lineage with 74.5 percent.

Other Omicron sub-lineages reported include BA.2.10 (3.5 percent), BA.2.12.1 (2.4%), BA.3 (2.2 percent), B.1.1.529 (2.1%), and others (12.6 percent). Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 have recently been recorded from a few Indian states (Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi & Gujarat) accounting for 0.4% & 0.5% respectively.

According to Dr Aravind R, head of infectious diseases, Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, even if there is an uptick in cases, the state is ready to deal with it. To him, the earlier protocol of categorizing patients as per their illness – A or B or C – mild or moderate or severe – is adequate. 

Earlier, it was predicted by SUTRA – (Susceptible, Undetected, Tested (positive), and Removed Approach), a government of India-backed model to track the trajectory of the Covid19 – that the fourth wave that will commence on June 22 will reach its peak on August 23 and will end on October 24.