Huawei – a Chinese tech giant with close ties with the Communist Party of China, has sponsored an article praising the Kerala model of Covid-19 management when the Communist-led Kerala government is facing massive criticism over its failure to handle the Covid-19 pandemic effectively.
On Friday, Reuters published an article on its website titled, “Kerala’s COVID-19 lessons for India and Modi’s government”, hailing the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government for its “effective handling” of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Interestingly, the propaganda article that is written by Reuters correspondent Krishna N Das attempting to give a clean chit to the Kerala government over allegations of massive mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic is sponsored by none other than Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
The propaganda article, paid by the Chinese company, makes tall claims about the so-called Kerala model of the Covid-19 and goes on to say that Kerala may actually “hold crucial lessons for the country” in containing the outbreak if a possible third wave of infections breaks out in the country.
In its report, Reuters claims that they have carried out their own analysis of national and state data and interviews with epidemiologists and Kerala health authorities, which according to them, painted a different picture.
In reality, Kerala, which is neither very populous nor very industrialised, has been the worst affected Indian state in the Covid crisis for months now.
Reuters comes up with ‘targeted testing’ bogey to defend Kerala’s mismanagement:
The report suggests that the state’s containment measures may have helped catch infections early, allowing authorities better to manage the illness and dramatically lower the death rate. Further, the report claims that Kerala’s decision to carry out antigen tests instead of prescribed RT-PCR tests has yielded results in combating the deaths due to the Covid-19.
Cleverly, Reuters cites the lowest fatality rate in the state to glorify Kerala for its “effective” management of the pandemic. “The efficient detection rate and its population density at more than twice the national average explain the high number of cases in Kerala,” the Reuters report claimed.
Well, now comes the spin. According to Reuters, Kerala’s success comes from its decision to adopt rapid antigen tests to detect and strictly isolate infected people at home, an approach completely different from successful states such as Uttar Pradesh.
Amusingly, Reuters quotes state officials and “experts” from JNU to argue that rapid antigen tests have helped them to better allocate hospital beds and oxygen supplies for those who really need them.
“The government-recommended RT-PCR tests are more accurate but take longer to produce results, meaning by the time a positive COVID-19 case is confirmed, the infected person is more likely to have developed severe symptoms and passed it on to others in a vicious cycle of more infections and deaths,” claimed the paid article.
Despite the uncertainty and a raging debate over the accuracy of rapid antigen tests, Reuters attempts to make their readers believe that it was much accurate than the RT-PCR tests, a testing protocol that is being followed in the rest of the country, especially in those states which have successfully halted the transmission of the virus.
Interestingly, Reuters, just like other self-proclaimed epidemiologists in the country, sticks to the ‘targeted testing’ bogey of the Kerala government to claim that the state was testing more; hence there is an increased number of cases in the state.
In fact, other states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan have been testing more than Kerala and recording the fewer fresh cases in the state. The bogey of “higher testing-higher cases” also does not hold true as there is no exact scientific rationale behind this strategy as it is not proved anywhere else other than Kerala.
‘More beds, enough oxygen supply in Kerala’, claims Reuters to declare Kerala model as the best
Reuters cites data from Kerala’s most populous Malappuram district, one of the epicentres of the second wave of the pandemic, to claim that a quarter of the Covid-19 beds in its biggest hospital were vacant and oxygen supply was ample. Thus, on the basis of the ready availability of beds and oxygen supply system, Reuters declares that Kerala had successfully managed to handle the pandemic much better than any other state.
Further, Reuters suggest that there were no lockdowns in Kerala despite higher cases, which according to them, showed how successful the Kerala model is. However, the information put out by Reuters is incorrect as the Kerala government has imposed tough lockdowns in the state, both in the first and the second wave of the pandemic, except relaxing it ahead of the Eid celebrations owing to pressure from the Muslim community.
As we know, the lockdown relaxations in Kerala ahead of the Eid celebrations have turned out to be a disaster, with the Communist-ruled state is now recording an average of 25,000 fresh cases every day.
It does not stop there. Reuters then hails Kerala for its vaccination push in the state, which according to Reuters, is the fastest pace among all states. Finally, concluding the paid article, the author claims that the strategy followed by the Communist government has done wonders in Kerala to tackle the pandemic and should be replicated in other states.
Reuters’ double standards in analysing Kerala and other states
Not just praising Kerala, the Reuters report went on to criticise the centre over “mishandling” of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country by claiming that people died in carparks and outside hospitals for lack of oxygen and beds in big cities at the height of the health crisis.
While picking up isolated incidents of deaths during the second wave of the pandemic, Reuters attempts to discredit the larger success achieved by the Indian government in stopping the Chinese pandemic from creating havoc across the country. However, the same standards are not applied to the Communist-ruled Kerala, where proper management of the pandemic has been aberration rather than a norm.
However, the reality is that since the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country last year, Kerala has remained one of the two biggest epicentres of Covid-19 infections in the country, along with Maharashtra. In fact, Kerala remains the worst Covid-19 affected state in the country and continues to be a burden to the country’s efforts in tackling the second wave of the pandemic even as other states have successfully reduced fresh Covid-19 cases.
For over a week now, Kerala has recorded close to 30,000 fresh coronavirus cases, along with over 200 deaths and a test positive rate above 19 per cent. With only 3 per cent of India’s population, Kerala now accounts for almost 70 per cent of all new Covid-19 cases. It ranks top in the daily number of deaths. The nationwide test positive rate is 2.4 per cent, while in Kerala, it is over 19 per cent.
With Kerala reporting more than 25,000 cases every day on an average over the last two weeks, the total tally of Covid-19 cases in the state now stands at 39,13,506, the second-highest in the country after Maharashtra.
Kerala has recorded on an average 150 deaths due to Covid-19 in the last two weeks, taking the related death toll in the state to 20,134.
One of the worrying factors about Covid-19 pandemic mismanagement in Kerala is the active cases in the state. As other states have almost brought the fresh infections to a halt, Kerala still has more than 1,81,230 active cases. Moreover, the fresh cases continue to pile up as 10,000 more cases have added up to the tally on Thursday alone.
Well, the number speaks for themselves.
Reuters tries to paint a rosy picture of the Kerala Covid-19 disaster despite all the glaring evidence that proves otherwise. It is interesting to see why Reuters would choose to defend the indefensible and why a tech company linked with the Communist Party of China would sponsor a paid article to glorify the Communist-led Kerala government and effectively whitewash their crimes of mismanagement during the Covid-19 pandemic.