A few Kerala districts are among the worst-hit in country.
Amid an unprecedented spread of coronavirus in Kerala, driven by Omicron, daily cases continue to cross the 50,000-mark. On Friday, Kerala recorded 54, 537 new Covid cases with around 1,15, 898 samples tested and 3.5 per cent of the patients hospitalised. A drop in growth rate in new cases, however, has been registered by the state in signs of improvement in the Covid situation, health officials say.
At Kerala Secretariat, officials say at least 20 per cent of the staff has been infected during this wave - more than double during the peak of second-wave. A majority of people, however, are recovering at home this time unlike the surge in hospitalisations last time.
"We have around 4,800 staff at the Secretariat, and more than 800 have been infected. In the last wave, around 300 were affected...this time it is more than 800," said Honey P, Additional Secretary, General Administration Department.
Some worried first-year medical students have been petitioning the Kerala University of Health Sciences to postpone their exams starting February 2, with around 150 students turning positive across the medical institutions in the state.
"Around 25 students within the college and more than 150 students all over Kerala preparing for the first-year exams are Covid positive. This is just adding to our stress, at a time when several other colleges and universities have postponed exams," Jerin James, a student at Calicut Medical College said.
Besides Thiruvananthapuram, now four other districts of Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, and Idukki have been placed under 'category C', with the strictest restrictions based on hospitalisations even as six districts in the state are among India's top 10 worst-hit districts, contributing the highest caseload.
But, health officials say, despite the high positivity rate and unprecedented fast spread of COVID in the third wave, unlike a delayed peak of the second wave in Kerala, now a decline in the growth rate of new cases has been registered.
"With a baseline of last week of December, the first week of January saw a 45 per cent increase in the growth rate of new cases, the second week to a 148 per cent increase, the third week saw up to 215 per cent but the fourth week has seen a decline in the growth of new cases, with an increase of 71 per cent," Kerala Health Minister Veena George said.
Kerala, according to health officials, is expecting to see a peak and subsequent decline in third-wave COVID cases by mid-February.