Kerala

CM to chair COVID-19 review meeting today

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will chair an online COVID-19 review meeting on Thursday to calibrate a response to the accelerated spread of the suspected Omicron-driven variant of the coronavirus.

Mr. Vijayan will join the meeting remotely from the U.S., where he has gone for treatment.

Soaring COVID-19 infections in Kerala have resurrected old fears of harsher restrictions on life, loss of livelihood, economic downturn, overstretched health care resources, critical staff shortage in hospitals, emergency services, public utilities and government offices.

On Wednesday, the number of active COVID-19 cases in Kerala touched 1.6 lakhs. A cabinet meeting reportedly felt the pestilence had reached a critical stage and warranted stricter regulations.

The uncertainty surrounding the "third wave" posed a new set of challenges for the government. An official privy to pandemic review meetings said the government was likely to strike a balance between mitigating the contagion and protecting the economy.

CM’s call

Mr. Vijayan might take a call on whether to reimpose weekend lockdowns, night curfew and restrict business timings. The UDF had on Tuesday opposed "unscientific" lockdowns and constraints on commercial activity.

The official said the current wave exhibited encouraging signs of abating in congested Mumbai. Kerala closely monitored whether the decrease in cases in other States constituted a "false dawn" or signalled a hopeful turnaround in the disease spread.

Meanwhile, the government drew flak from the UDF for not preparing for a third wave.

Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan said the highly virulent third wave had blindsided the government despite several early warnings.

The administration appeared to give more emphasis to short-term political compulsions than public health, he said.

It had limited gatherings to a maximum of 50 persons. But the restriction remained largely on paper. The government allowed elections to the Kudumbashree, prompting 300 to 400 women to line up in close ques to cast their vote across the State, Mr. Satheesan said.

The government was focussed on organising public spectacles and close-door meetings as part of the CPI(M) 's upcoming State conference. The government had not closed educational institutions despite many turning into COVID-19 hotspots, he said.

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said the government seemed to have left the COVID-19-ravaged populace to its fate. It lacked a coherent pandemic mitigation strategy.

Health Minister Veena George has largely confined herself to doling out advice to the people. He said the CPI(M) conferences had turned into Petri dishes for the pestilence.


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Printable version | May 17, 2022 1:53:19 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/cm-to-chair-covid-19-review-meeting-today/article38293394.ece