State model is intact: Kerala CM hits back at Oppn
Amid a big surge in virus cases, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday justified the state’s containment strategy and asked critics which model should the state follow if the present one is ineffective.
On Friday, the state reported another hike with 32,801 cases and a test positivity rate (TPR) of 19.22 per cent after 170,703 samples were tested. It also reported 179 fatalities, taking the death toll to 20, 313. Active cases also increased to 195,254, said the state health ministry.
Four districts reported more than 3000 new cases – Malappuram 4032, Thrissur 3953, Ernakulam 3627 and Kozhikode 3362. In the last three days, the state has been reporting over 30,000 cases and it is attributed to the just-concluded Onam festivities.
In the wake of high caseload, opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have criticised the state’s virus containment strategy and held the CM responsible for the sorry state of affairs. Earlier, the CM used to hold a regular briefing at 6 pm, but for the last two weeks it was not happening, and the opposition said he was running away from reality.
The CM, in an article in ‘Chintha,’ a party-sponsored weekly, said there was a concerted plan to discredit the state and its model of development and exhorted party workers to expose such elements.
“There is a discussion that the current strategy is inappropriate. Some people neglect facts and try to create confusion. They are flagging unnecessary controversies to create a smokescreen,” he said in his write-up. He said in the state no bodies floated in rivers, and none died on roads, and nobody has gone to bed with an empty stomach in trying times.
But opposition leader V D Satheesan reiterated his charge that the CM was scared to face the press and people. “He can’t justify his doings in a party mouthpiece like this when the state is reeling under the grave situation,” he said. Congress said the whole state was pushed to the ICU due to poor handling of the situation.
Meanwhile, state health minister Veena George said 70. 24 per cent of the eligible population in the state (above 18 years) was vaccinated, and out of this, 25.3% received both vaccines. She said though cases show an upward trend situation is under control.
“There is no unusual rush in hospitals. Almost 50 per cent of ventilators and ICU beds are vacant,” she said, adding mortality rate remained lowest in the country at 0.5 per cent while the national average was 1.25 per cent. “On May 13, 43,000 cases were reported with a TPR of 29%. Two months later, it came down to 10,000, and TPR was in the 10-12 per cent range. But now, cases are going up again, and it will stabilise soon,” she said.
“According to Indian Council of Medical Research, Kerala’s virus undercounting factor is 6% while it is 33% in some other states. In vaccination and testing, it continues its good track record. By Sept 20 we are planning to give at least one dose of vaccine to all eligible people,” she said, adding the Centre has agreed to supply enough doses.
Meanwhile, the government has decided to tighten containment measures and decided to impose a complete lockdown on Sunday. The Union Government had asked the two worst-affected states, Kerala and Maharashtra, to impose night curfew to restrict the movement of people. The state is expected to take a call this Saturday in the Covid review meeting being chaired by the CM. The state had lifted lockdown in the last two weeks because of Independence Day and Onam festival.