No lockdown in Kerala but curbs to be enforced: CM Pinarayi Vijayan amid Covid-19 spike
The all-party meet in Kerala on Tuesday decided to take immediate steps to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus and defer all agitation in view of rising cases but there is no plan to impose lockdown again, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Once lauded for its effective pandemic control measures, the state is facing a huge challenge after cases spiked in September-- the state’s test positivity rate is 13.94 per cent while the national average is below 8 per cent. Though cases surged and recovery thinned, the mortality rate is low in the state when compared to other states.
“The situation is serious. All parties pledged their support to the government. All strikes and protests have been deferred and there will be a strict ban on big gatherings,” the CM said adding if the present trend continued cases may peak by the middle of October. He said a new guideline will be issued in a couple of days and another lockdown was not feasible.
Now, in terms of active cases, the state is in the fifth spot and the strain is visible on the harried health machinery and ICU facilities are almost full in major hospitals. Covid-19 cases peaked in the state when neighbouring states showed a downward trend.
The Indian Medical Association’s Kerala chapter has asked the state government to declare a medical emergency as the situation has turned serious. “The crisis in the state will deteriorate if stringent steps are not taken. With high population density and a large number of elderly people, the situation will be really alarming. A health emergency must be declared to create awareness among the people,” the IMA said in its letter to the chief minister.
The IMA also said the state has a relatively low-testing rate and it should be increased considerably. Many medical experts said the state will have to increase RT-PCR tests instead of antigen tests. But the CM said there is no plan to impose a medical emergency.
In view of the rising cases, opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front had stopped its ongoing stir against Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel who was interrogated by the National Investigation Agency and Enforcement Directorate in connection with the gold smuggling case. Earlier, state health minister K K Shailaja had blamed opposition parties for the recent surge in cases. The state had witnessed violent protests in the last two weeks.
But the BJP said it will go ahead with its symbolic protests. “Left trade unions are leading farmers’ agitation against the Union government in various parts of the country and in Kerala they want all to keep away from a stir. It is a double standard,” said party state president K Surendran.
On Tuesday, the state has reported 7354 new cases taking the total to 1,87,276 cases. 1,24,688 people have recovered and active cases currently stand at 61,791. With 22 deaths, the toll has gone up to 720.