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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

containing Covid 19 - news, views and awards ! - from New Zealand to Kerala models !!

How dreaded is Corona ? – Statistics can always give different views ! – According to John Hopkins University – the total cases affected globally is 21,23,28,733 with 44,38,511 deaths.  USA has 38038263 while India has 32449306.  6,29,641 have died in USA; 4,34,756 in India and 5,74,527 in Brazil.   New cases per day in USA in recent 24 hours is 2,60,656 in USA – while it is 25,072 in India !  If these nos. are real indicators – India can certainly heave a sigh of relief.

It was June 2020 – Globe was reeling under the dreaded Corona virus, the first country that handled it most efficiently was New Zealand as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced New Zealand  moving  to alert level 1 under which life returns almost to normal. The stunning announcement was appreciated all over as Kiwi health officials said that it has no active cases of Covid-19. The Pacific island nation was among only a handful of countries that could emerge out from the pandemic, which was at its height in USA, Latin American countries, Europe and India.  When that announcement came, it was 17 days since a single case was reported in NZ.  New Zealand enforced a strict lockdown for nearly seven weeks, in which most businesses were shut and everyone except essential workers had to stay at home. Experts stated that its isolated location in the South Pacific also gave New Zealand vital time to see how outbreaks spread in other countries. Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus in New Zealand, and death toll was only  22.

Around that time, one State in India basked in glory as many experts (!) hailed and recommended adopting ‘Kerala model” !  -  Kerala bagged  United Nations award too for its "outstanding contribution" towards the non-communicable diseases-related sustainable development goals. The UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) award  on prevention and control of non-communicable diseases was announced by World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Health Minister K K Shailaja claimed that the award was a recognition of the tireless service of Kerala in the health sector. Ms Shailaja said in a statement. "We were able to control the death rate during the COVID-19 period as we were able to focus on the NCDs."

Life has changed and some facts too have !!

                               Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended New Zealand's coronavirus lockdown on Monday, saying the current outbreak has not peaked, as criticism mounts of her strategy to eliminate COVID-19 amid the slow rollout of its vaccine programme.  Ardern garnered global praise for stamping out COVID-19 in New Zealand last year and the country was virus-free since February. But an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus last week while few people have been vaccinated has called into question the approach of snap lockdowns and border restrictions that have curtailed the economy. Ardern extended the strict level 4 national lockdown by three days until midnight on Aug. 27 while its largest city Auckland, the epicentre of the current outbreak, will have restrictions in place at least until Aug. 31. "We don't yet believe that we have reached the peak of this outbreak, or necessarily the edge of it," Ardern said at a news conference in the capital Wellington.

Are the numbers so alarming, one tends to ask ? - New Zealand is bracing for its biggest coronavirus outbreak yet as cases rise, the locations of interest balloon to more than 400 sites, and the number of close contacts swells to more than 15,700 people. Recently, the country recorded 41 new positive cases (at one point of time, in a cluster in my street, close to 190 people were affected and were living in a single complex in Triplicane – Chennai, India), bringing the total number in its outbreak to 148 – the majority of whom are Samoan, and linked to a sub-cluster who assembled at the Assembly of God church in Mangere, Auckland before the lockdown.  A nationwide, level 4 lockdown – the highest setting – has been extended until at least the end of the week, as the country battles to contain the outbreak of the Delta variant.

New Zealand Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins made an unfortunate error when he advised people to socially distance when they go outside to “spread their legs”. Of the 41 new cases, 38 are in Auckland, and 3 are in Wellington. Of the total 148 cases, 89 are epidemiologically linked to the Auckland cluster, with the remaining still under investigation, but likely to be linked because they are either household contacts or have been at a location of interest. Eight people are in hospital with the virus, but no one is in intensive care. Genome sequencing has linked the cluster to a returnee from Australia. It is not yet known how the virus was transmitted from the traveller, who was in quarantine, to the community, but a walkway and an atrium in the facility is being investigated.   All non-essential businesses are closed, including bars, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds. All indoor and outdoor events are banned, while schools have switched to online learning. Essential services remain open, including supermarkets and pharmacies.  Health workers continue to find people who are likely to have been in contact with a Covid-19 case and could have been infectious before the lockdown started, Ardern said.

Ms Ardern, who made the decision to suspend the house, said MPs coming from around the country risked spreading the virus further. The move has riled opposition parties, who say the suspension could allow the government to avoid scrutiny and criticism of its lockdown policies and pandemic management.

Before concluding, Ernakulam (Cochin in Kerala) on Sunday reported 1,101 cases. Test positivity rate touched 12.44% on Sunday. The highest cases of the day were  reported from Thrikkakara with 55, followed by Nayarambalam 39 and Elamkunnapuzha 31.  The number of patients undergoing treatment at hospitals and houses touched 19,470 on Sunday. Of the total, 90 are in Kalamassery medical college, 1,089 in private hospitals and the rest in first and second-line treatment centres, houses and other government hospitals.

On Monday, the country logged just 25,072 cases, taking the total past 3.24 crore.  But a report in a leading newspaper questioned it stating -  a closer look at the numbers suggests that this significant drop could rather be a “manufactured” one on account of declining tests in Kerala. The country has now reported less than 40,000 cases 10 days in a row and the fall in cases on Monday meant a decline of about 19 per cent as compared to the previous day. Kerala has been reporting the highest number of daily infections over nearly two months now, but over the last two weeks, there has been a decline of 14 per cent in seven-day average of daily cases.  On Monday, for instance, Kerala reported just 10,402 new cases —  down from 20,242 daily infections registered on the previous day.

Busting of the Kerala model !- but those who hailed it so soundly are deaf and silent !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Aug 2021. 

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