Kerala reported 17,106 COVID-19 cases on Saturday, Onam day. The test positivity rate (TPR) which has been increasing in the past few days is now 17.73%. The state, which has already been recording the highest number of per-day cases in the country for a while, is witnessing an increasing number of COVID-19 patients during Onam celebrations. People were seen crowding in market places and outside venues for shopping ahead of Onam, many seen flouting COVID-19 protocol, like minimum distance between each other and a proper covering with masks. On Friday, there were 20,224 cases (TPR of 16.94) and on Thursday there were 21,116 cases (TPR of 16.15).
Last weekend and on Sunday, August 22, Kerala did not impose the lockdown that it had introduced during weekends. On account of Independence Day (August 15) and Onam, the biggest festival for Malayalis, the Sunday lockdown was relaxed by the government for two weekends in a row. This may have caused the increase in cases, especially due to COVID-19 norms being flouted. However, the earlier lockdowns and selective opening of shops, depending on the TPR of places, had also been criticised by critics for badly affecting small scale traders and businessmen.
There are now 1,78,462 active cases of COVID-19 in Kerala. Saturday’s numbers say that there are 414 wards in 74 Local Self Government (LSG) bodies across the state where the Weekly Infection Population Ratio (WIPR) is above 8%. The government has said that there will be strict restrictions in these areas. It has been taking into consideration the WIPR instead of the earlier TPR-based calculations for deciding restrictions and relaxations in different LSGs. The WIPR determines the total number of COVID-19 infections depending on the population of a certain ward or panchayat. However, this method too has been criticised by certain medical experts.