CM Pinarayi Vijayan, medical experts lock horns as Covid-19 cases mount in Kerala
Amid mounting Covid-19 cases and a steep hike in test positivity rate, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and medical experts on Tuesday locked horns over the pandemic control measures in the state.
While the CM maintained that the state’s Covid-19 control measures have paid dividends, experts want the government to streamline its plans and engage more professionals in the fight against the pandemic. They warned the government that Covid-19 cases may peak by this month-end and the state needs more curbs to meet the situation and more tests. They said the government was framing policies as suggested by the bureaucracy without consulting medical experts.
The Union Health Ministry statistics show after Maharashtra and Karnataka, Kerala has got the highest active cases (87,738) and test positivity rate has gone up to 13.01while the national average is 8.3. The state has also got the maximum new cases per million. But the CM brushed aside criticism saying the state has got the lowest mortality rate in the country 0.36% while the national average is 1.55 per cent. He also came down heavily on the Indian Medical Association Kerala chapter which earlier said the “state health system was weak sans deep study and proper management”.
“We are making suggestions to improve the system and minimise damage. But the government is taking them personally and targets those who criticize it. It is not a healthy trend. It should see the writing on the wall and redraw its strategies accordingly. It is no time for publicity gimmicks,” US-returned medical expert Dr S S Lal wrote on Facebook criticizing what he called the government’s intolerance.
After he made some remarks, health minister K K Shailaja chided him saying the state has got better health records than the United States.
“At present 80% of the ICUs are filled. And the government hospitals are shooing away non-Covid-19 patients. Bureaucracy is framing policies overlooking public health experts and others,” said IMA president Dr Abraham Varghese. But the CM retorted saying IMA was only a doctors’ trade outfit not an expert body.
Meanwhile, the state reported 7,871 new cases taking the total to 2,42,779. The active cases now stand at 87,738 and 1,54,092 patients have recovered. With 25 deaths, the toll has gone up to 885. Among the infected are 111 health workers.