Kerala has extended and will go under complete weekend lockdown from this week as the state reports a surge in Coronavirus cases. An increasing ‘R’ value, or Covid reproduction rate, in Kerala had earlier this month triggered concerns of a potential 3rd wave, which could even fuel a national spike. The southern state has been reporting a high number of infections for the past many weeks even as the overall numbers across the country have been falling rapidly since the second wave peak.

A day after the Health Ministry responded over the situation potentially blowing over, the Centre has decided to send a six-member team headed by Director of the National Centre for Disease Control to the state to assess the situation and aid the state’s Covid management efforts. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted “As a large number of Covid cases are still being reported in Kerala, the team will aid the state’s ongoing efforts in Covid management.”

Kerala on Wednesday recorded 22,056 fresh COVID-19 cases pushing the infection caseload to 33,27,301, with the number of people who succumbed to the virus rising to 16,457 with 131 more deaths. As many as 17,761 people have been cured of the infection, taking the total recoveries to 31,60,804 and the number of active cases to 1,49,534, a state government release said. On a positive side, the state is vaccinating at a rate much faster than the rest of the country.

This Covid surge came after Kerala’s move to announce a three-day relaxation of Covid curbs for Eid-Ul-Azha last week. This drew sharp criticisms from both the BJP which on Wednesday blamed “politics of appeasement” and the Supreme Court, which called it “wholly uncalled for”. However, the top court did not cancel the government notification that eased the lockdown in the state.

The southern state, which has been lauded in the past for its best practices in Covid management, is now contributing over 50 per cent of positive cases in the country over the last two days. A Health Ministry source yesterday said the state is “focused more on mitigation process of treating cases than containment.” This gives some hope to better deal with rising Covid positive cases.