Covid-19 spread: Kerala mulls lockdown in worst-hit districts

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on April 30, 2021

A health worker collecting nasal swab for RTPCR test for Covid-19 at Palakkad on   -  BusinessLine

In some districts positivity ratio breaches 50 per cent

Kerala has proposed a total lockdown in districts where the Covid-19 spread is worsening with test positivity rate breaching 50 per cent, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said.

The State government has already declared that the tight weekend restrictions being enforced from Saturday will be extended into the next week (from Tuesday to Sunday). Functioning of government offices will be reduced to the bare minimum involving essential services only.

Freight movement allowed

But freight movement inlcuding that of oxygen, medical equipment and material will be allowed. Passengers arriving at the airports and railway stations can proceed to their destinations.

Banks should encourage online banking to avoid crowding. attendance at weddings will be restricted to 50 and funerals to 20. Ration shops and State Civil Services Corporation outlets will re-open during the week.

Strict orders have been issued to avoid any crowding or victory celebrations on Sunday (May 2) when results of the Assembly elections will be declared, the Chief Minister said.

RT-PCR charge cut

The State government on Friday slashed the charges for RT-PCR test for Covid-19 diagnosis at private labs to ₹500 from ₹1,700. In State government facilities all tests, including RT-PCTR, are done free of cost.

RT-PCR is the golden standard for diagnosis of Covid-19 as per ICMR guidelines, the government notification said. But only imported kits were available until February 2020, and there were only a few companies globally supplying the kits and consumables.

After doing a market analysis through procurement agency Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd (KMSCL), the government initially fixed rates for the test in approved private labs at ₹1,500. But the labs approached the High Court which ordered that the rates be revised to ₹1,700.

Meanwhile, the government had procured mobile RT-PCR lab services from private agencies, which were deployed at specific sites to collect samples from identified segments for testing, and transfer data to the Lab Diagnostics Management System (LDMS), and conduct RT-PCR tests.

The KMSCL had arrived at a rate of ₹448.20 per at test at the static and mobile labs. In the meanwhile, as part of strengthening airport surveillance, the KMSCL and the district administration explored the possibilities of engaging private (static) labs at the same rate per test.

There are 10 labs in the State doing RT-PCR tests, sample collections and biomedical waste management along with LDMS portal updation 24x7 at the same rate. Direct cost of kits and consumables (excluding HR and other overheads) are understood to be in the range of ₹135-₹240, the notification said.

States such as Haryana, Telangana and Uttarakhand have fixed ₹500 for the test while Odisha was charging ₹400, it added.



Published on April 30, 2021

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