84 new Covid-19 cases in Kerala, CM slams critics for running down state
Kerala reported 84 fresh coronavirus cases on Thursday in the highest spike yet to take the tally to 1,088 while a Covid-19 patient died to take the casualties to eight, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Vijayan also put union minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan in his line of fire accusing him of portraying the state in a bad light.
Muraleedharan who also hails from Kerala, had alleged on Wednesday that the state government was fudging its data to keep its records intact and its test rates were abysmally poor.
Without naming Muraleedharan, the CM said people who cannot digest rapid strides the state made in its fight against the virus were spreading canards.
“How can you hide statistics? The state’s mortality rate is 0.5 whereas the national rate 2.8. We have been following the guideline of the Indian Council of Medical Research in letter and spirit. And the Union Health Minister had lauded our efforts on a number of occasions. He even asked other states to make Kerala a role model. Despite this, some people want to portray the state in a bad light. People will realise their game-plan,” Vijayan said.
The chief minister said one of the reasons for the low number of tests was faulty test kits the state received in initial days so it could not conduct mass anti-body tests as planned.
“Since critics have no other points to raise they were harping on the same charges,” he said.
Kerala will increase its tests by this weekend from a daily figure of 1,500-1,800 to 3000.
“The state’s transmission rate is lowest in the country. People who criticise us will have to see this,” he said.
Besides Muraleedharan, many experts have also questioned the state’s low testing rate citing statistics. While Kerala has tested only 60,685 samples in four months its neighbour Karnataka had tested 2, 28, 914 till May 27 and Andhra Pradesh 4,12, 714. Both states started reporting cases in March first week but in Kerala first case was reported in January last. Critics say the state failed to capitalize on its early advantage.
Vijayan said the latest death took place in Thiruvananthapuram. The man came from Rajasthan and had to go to Telengana but arrived in Kerala two days ago after he boarded a wrong train. He was suffering from many other health complications, he said.
Out of 84 new cases 31 are expatriates, 48 came from other states and five people got the infection from others. Out of the total of 1,088 cases 526 are active.
As the number of cases rise, many health workers are also falling prey to the virus. At least 28 health workers have tested positive in the last two months and experts said this unhealthy trend will pose a serious threat to the overworked health sector. Poor quality personal protection equipment is a major reason for the sorry state, they said.
The duration of the contact with patients often exposes medical professionals to the highly-contagious virus so the quality of the PPE kit is important. In some cases kits are inferior in quality and often reduce to a bundle of plastics.
“We have to ensure the safety of our frontline warriors. Authorities will have to ensure foolproof PPE kits,” said health activist Dr N Sulfi.