A view of the deserted street of East Fort during weekend lockdown in Thiruvananthapuram on July 31. Image Credit: ANI

Thiruvananthapuram: In what could be a record of sorts, Kerala on Saturday recorded 20,624 new COVID-19 positive cases in 24 hours taking the total new cases in the past five days to over 100,000.

This is the fifth day in a row that the state has recorded over 20,000 cases and the only solace for the day is the day’s test positivity rate which has come down marginally from 13.61 per cent on Friday to 12.31 per cent on Saturday.

A statement issued here by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said 20,624 people tested positive after 1,67,579 samples were tested in the past 24 hours.

The day also saw 16,865 recovery while the total number of active cases was 1,64,500.

Malappuram district accounted for the maximum number of cases on Saturday with 3,474 turning positive followed by Trissur with 2,693 cases.

Saturday also saw 80 people dying due to Covid taking the total death tally in the state to 16,781.

State Health Minister Veena George cautioned the people that utmost caution has to be maintained with regard to observing Covid protocols as in the present circumstances according to experts a possible third wave is expected.

“According to statistics, 50 per cent of the state population is vulnerable to Covid. Moreover the new Delta virus is also a serious one and if the third wave happens before the vaccination process is over in the state, then things could be worrisome,” said George.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Veena George said Kerala is not yet free from the second wave of COVID-19 and therefore people should be extra cautious and vigilant against transmission of the infection to prevent a third wave from occurring.

At a special meeting held to review the state’s preparedness to handle a third wave, George said about half of the population of Kerala was susceptible to the virus and therefore, precautions have to be taken as presence of the highly contagious delta variant has been detected, according to a state government release.

She said people need to take precautions like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing and isolation till the majority of the populace is vaccinated.

The minister said if a third wave hits before the vaccination reaches everyone, the severity of the infection and those requiring hospitalisation would be high.

Once vaccines are available in sufficient quantities, immunization would be carried out on a war footing, she said, adding that the health department was well equipped to handle the same.

Precautions should also be taken after being vaccinated, she said.

At the meeting, ensuring oxygen availability and treatment facilities in the event of a third wave was also discussed, the release said.

It was also decided to utilise funds available under central and state government schemes, Corporate Social Responsibility and donations by voluntary organisations to set up oxygen generation units.

George directed the Kerala Medical Services Corporation to ensure that 33 oxygen generation units, which will produce 77 metric tonnes of oxygen, set up in different parts of the state, are made operational by August itself,the release said.

The minister also directed the department heads to ensure stockpiling of COVID medical supplies in medical colleges and other medical centers. PTI HM