India coronavirus : How Kerala’s Covid ’success story’ came undone


  • India coronavirus: How Kerala’s Covid ’success story’ came undone - BBC News

    Kerala took 110 days to report its first thousand cases. In mid-July, it was reporting around 800 infections a day. As of 20 July, Kerala’s caseload had crossed 12,000, with 43 reported deaths. More than 170,000 people were in quarantine, at home and in hospitals.One reason, say experts, for this sharp uptick is that nearly half a million workers returned to the state from the Gulf countries and others parts of India after the grinding countrywide lockdown, which shut businesses and threw people out of their jobs. Some 17% of Kerala’s working-age population works outside the state. Unsurprisingly, more than 7,000 of the reported cases so far have a history of travel. “But when the lockdown travel restrictions were lifted, people came flocking back to the state, and it became impossible to curb the re-entry of infected cases,” says Shashi Tharoor, a senior Indian opposition politician and member of parliament from Trivandrum. Mr Tharoor remembers a conversation he had with Chief Minister Pinayari Vijayan soon after the first repatriation flights carrying Keralites working in the Gulf countries landed in Kerala. “He lamented that not only the virus was coming in, but infected people were transmitting the contagion to fellow passengers on the plane.”"I think this was unavoidable, since every citizen has a constitutional right to come home to India, even if they are ill. But that made a major difference," Mr Tharoor told me. The influx has possibly sparked a surge in local community transmission - since early May, reported cases without any travel history have gone up. More than 640 of the 821 new cases reported on Sunday, for example, were contracted locally, officials said. The source of 43 of them is untraceable