Kerala continues to reel from the third Covid-19 wave with the test positivity rate hitting 37.17% on Wednesday. The state recorded 34,199 fresh cases from 91,983 samples tested in the past 24 hours to take its active caseload to 1.68 lakh.
The test positivity rate in a few districts has also crossed the state average.
Thiruvananthapuram, the worst affected district, 5,684 cases were recorded on Wednesday, with a test positivity rate of 45.8%. The figure indicates that nearly half of all samples tested return a positive result.
In Ernakulam, which recorded 5,953 cases on Wednesday, the test positivity rate has shot up to 44.59%. In Kozhikode and Kottayam, the test positivity rate is 40.53% and 39.05%, respectively.
According to Kerala Health Department data, the growth rate in newly declared cases rose 211% during the week starting January 12. The state also reported 49 new Covid-19-related deaths in the past 24 hours and another 85 from the backlog.
Health Minister Veena George said Kerala was witnessing extreme spread of the Omicron variant. She said cases were spiking at an alarming rate in the initial stages of the third wave itself, in contrast to the first and second waves in which Kerala had delayed the peak.
George added that the next three weeks would be critical for the state.
The health minister also said the Omicron variant was highly infectious and the number of patients requiring ventilator and ICU support could go up at any time.
The number of active patients, those admitted in hospitals, and field hospitals rose 192%, 60%, and 113%, respectively, between January 12 and 18 against the previous week. Patients in ICU, on ventilator support, and on oxygen-supported beds surged 38%, 9%, and 52%, respectively, during the week.
However, of the total 168,383 active cases, only 3.2% are admitted in hospitals. This figure has remained constant and indicates that the progression toward disease is not very alarming, according to the data.
Kerala has decided to shut schools from January 21 and a decision on other restrictions, such as closure of colleges, will be taken in a review meeting today.