Covid-19: Kerala CM cites ‘good intent’ in Harsh Vardhan speak

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on October 20, 2020

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan   -  THE HINDU

Soaring of daily new cases post-Onam festival

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that recent comments by Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, should not be taken as a criticism of Kerala’s efforts in Covid-19 management but needs to be evaluated for the larger message therein for other States.

The Chief Minister told newspersons here that the Union Minister had patted the State for its good efforts in containing the virus in the early stages but had only expressed his concern about the spurt in cases following Onam, which also signals the start of the festival season for the country as a whole.

Limited relaxations for Onam

Even here, the Chief Minister sought to make a distinction saying that the Union Minister may not have been aware that the State government had made only limited relaxations for people to celebrate the festival, but the real trigger for igniting the Covid-19 spiral lay somewhere else.

He said the Covid-19 situation was under control during and after the Onam festival season as strict vigil was enforced even during that period. “Our preventive measures were a success but it was done in by the reckless acts by an irresponsible Opposition later,” he said.

Opposition takes to streets

According to him, the trigger for the spiral was the wilful and mindless violation of protocols by top leaders of the Opposition parties who took to the streets for purely political and partisan reasons and who egged on cadres to come out in large numbers to take on the government.

Thus, the State witnessed the unedifying spectacle of large numbers of their cadres physically engaging not only each other but the police in protracted fights at many centres. In the process, they infected not just themselves but hundreds of policemen while being in the line of duty.

Gold smuggling case

It was during the lockdown phase that a controversy broke out over smuggling of gold allegedly through diplomatic channels. The needle of suspicion had also pointed to M Sivasankar, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, who has since been ousted. This came in as a boon for the Opposition in the poll-bound State which was only waiting for an opportunity to strike.

Also read: Controlling Covid: Health Ministry sends Central teams to Karnataka, Kerala

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also said on Monday that Kerala was successful in containing the number of Covid-19 cases till date. Its effort was to delay the pandemic from peaking and use the time gained in this manner to strengthen medical and health infrastructure facilities in the State.

Low case fatality rates

“The fatality rate has been low due to scientific approach to reducing mortality among Covid patients. From a 0.77 per cent in May, the decline was gradual (to 0.45 per cent June; 0.4 per cent in August; and to 0.38 per cent in September) as it narrowed to 0.28 per cent in October (till date).”

The fact that the State has been to bring down the mortality rate to this level is a proud achievement, the Chief Minister said, that too at a time when the numbers of new cases were soaring. “This is how our health sector has come to receive several international accolades.”

The Chief Minster recalled that Kerala was the first State in the country to develop a Covid-19 protocol. Social distancing and public awareness were initiated here much before anyone else could do it. It was also the first to implement a State-wide lockdown in the country.

Published on October 20, 2020

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