After successfully curbing the growth of coronavirus cases, Kerala is in the news again, this time for providing some relaxations during lockdown 2.0. This move has, however, invited severe criticism from the central government that is working on strict observance of lockdown protocols. Here is how the story goes.
The COVID-19 first case in Kerala
The first COVID-19 case in the country was detected on January 30 in Kerala, and since then the rate of novel coronavirus cases in India has been spiking. As per the health ministry update on Tuesday (April 21), the number of cases has reached 18,601, including 590 deaths. However, in the crisis, the Kerala government has provided an example of how to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. Using the experience of containing other health crises such as Zika and Nipah, Kerala has penetrated its health infrastructure to the grass-root level, so extensive testing and identifying suspected cases were feasible for the health officials. As a result, the curve of COVID-19 infection has flattened.
Positive steps from CM
The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, turned serious after few confirmed cases were reported in the state. He immediately took some positive steps like providing rapid test kits, arranging quarantine facilities, deploying some policemen to distribute door to door essential items. He also ordered the shutting down of educational institutions, banned big gatherings.
Health officials identify every patient
The state CM stressed to increase the production of sanitisers and face masks, which are the essential items to prevent COVID-19 from spreading quickly. Apart from this, aggressive testing also took place. But tracing of infected people was a hard nut to crack for the officials. Health authorities left no stone unturned and identified every patient and their contacts. Later, they were kept in quarantine centres which had saved the state from disaster.
The state government provided cooked food to daily wagers and needy people. It also created shelter homes for the poor and thereby it stopped the movement of migrant workers, and such a step prevented a mass exodus of migrant workers moving out of the state such as was seen in Delhi.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said during a press conference, “There was a time when it seemed that the coronavirus crisis would go out of hand, but that did not happen. On April 4, we had over 1.7 lakh people under observation, today that figure has been brought down to about 46,000.”
Partial relaxation on the card
Seeing the improvement in the prevailing situation in the state, partial relaxation was announced on Sunday by the Kerala government. A large number of people came out of their houses due to relaxation. Several people hit the roads with their four-wheelers and two-wheelers. The state government has criticised the people’s action for taking undue advantage of the relaxation. Chief Minister Vijayan has said that “this cannot be allowed”. Hence, the government has decided to roll back some of the relaxations.
Classification of districts in Kerala
The Kerala government had classified all the 14 districts in the state into four categories such as – Red, Orange A, Orange B and Green. Relaxations are to be provided, according to the severity of novel coronavirus cases in each district. Two districts Kottayam and Idukki have been marked as Green, which means there is not a single case of COVID-19 in both the districts.
COVID-19-severity-wise distribution of districts in Kerala (chronological order):
- Kasaragod, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur have been marked ‘Red’,
- Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kollam have been marked ‘Orange A’.
- Alappuzha, Trivandrum, Wayanad, Palakkad and Thrissur districts have been marked ‘Orange B.’
- Kottayam and Idukki have been marked Green.
MHA raps Kerala govt
The Ministry of Home Affairs has objected strongly to the Kerala government’s decision on relaxation policy. Some of the decisions by the state government like opening restaurants, barbershops, book stores, and so on in some places have been considered as a violation of the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines.
The Union home secretary, in a strongly worded letter to Kerala chief secretary, has said the states cannot violate the MHA guidelines under the disaster management Act.
No plight of public transport
The Kerala government has made it clear that public transport will not be allowed on the roads. After a rap from the home ministry, the state government is reconsidering its decision to ban some of the relaxations as well.