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Unabated rise in Covid cases in Kerala: Supreme Court asks govt to examine Covid situation

Unabated rise in Covid cases in Kerala: Supreme Court asks govt to examine Covid situation

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Jan 28: The number of COVID-19 cases in Kerala continued to rise unabated, with the state reporting 54,537 cases on Friday taking the infection count to 58,81,133. According to the health department, 352 deaths were reported, pushing the death count to 52,786. Among the latest fatalities, 94 were recorded over the last few days, while 258 were designated as COVID-19 deaths after receiving appeals based on the new guidelines of the Centre and the directions of the Supreme Court. Among the districts, Ernakulam reported the highest number of cases today--10,571, followed by Thiruvananthapuram with 6,735 and Thrissur 6,082. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Friday asked the Kerala government to examine the COVID-19 situation in jails there and consider releasing more prisoners for the time being. A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai also asked the state government, represented by senior advocate P V Surendranath, not to insist on surrender of those prisoners, out on interim bail or parole, in view of the surge in Covid cases again. "Now, you do not insist on people coming back. Examine the position in jails, if the position of Covid in jail is bad, see to it that people go home and come back", it observed. The bench asked the state counsel to instruct the authorities not to take coercive action against persons who are out on bail and parole. It was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the state's order asking prisoners, who were released by the government on parole or interim bail in the wake of the pandemic, to surrender back to jails. One of the petitioners, Dolphy, who was released from the prison on parole, has rushed to the apex court after being asked to surrender back to jail despite the poor pandemic situation in the state. Earlier, the apex court had ordered de-congestion of prisons in the wake of Covid 19 and had directed the states and UTs to constitute a High Powered Committee to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or interim bail. 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.

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