Kerala

COVID-19: Opposition UDF says Kerala govt. has ‘forsaken’ patients

Ramesh Chennithala, Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Legislative Assembly. File

Ramesh Chennithala, Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Legislative Assembly. File   | Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition on Thursday accused the government of having “forsaken” COVID-19 afflicted persons and “left them in the lurch” with scarce State-support in the time of the extreme crisis.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, who chaired a meeting of the coalition via video conference, said the State government’s three-tier plan to treat novel coronavirus patients had collapsed at the very start. The administration had “deserted the people and left them to fend for themselves”.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had claimed in March that the government had readied 2.5 lakh beds in State-run facilities to quarantine expatriates. However, after the first few chartered flights arrived, the government retracted the mandate for compulsory institutional quarantine.

Instead, it washed its hands of citizens arriving in Kerala from pandemic hotspots within and outside the country and asked them to go into home quarantine or room quarantine.

The government “lied about ventilator and hospital bed capacity”. It spurned the suggestion of experts to rope in the private health sector as early as April and legally fix treatment charges so that patients were not fleeced.

A recent order by the Chief Secretary that COVID-19 afflicted persons should confine themselves at home was the last straw. The order did not mention whether doctors would make house calls or health workers monitor the status of patients.

Instead, the government announced a slew of hefty fines for various violations of the health protocol, such as the failure to wear masks or maintain physical distance. “The government is treating a public health hazard as a law and order problem,” he said.

‘Lowest level of testing’

Kerala had the “lowest level of testing per thousand of the population”. The government had “repeatedly fudged health data to bolster its false claim” that the disease was under control and at a manageable level in the State.

Mr. Chennithala said experts had pointed to large scale under-reporting of cases. The government had “repeatedly denied community transmission” even as large community clusters erupted across the State.

The government had failed to prepare for the relentless advance of the pandemic as it threatened to scythe through the State's population. The government was in paralysis as the caseload spiralled upward, threatening to overwhelm the State’s critical care facilities.

The stasis in government indicated a “dismal failure in leadership” on the part of Mr. Vijayan. The Chief Minister had no plan to reopen the economy safely. He should make cash available, a minimum ₹5,000, to daily wage earners at least now.

The UDF would organise State-wide protests without breaking physical distance rules on August 3 and August 10 in 22,000 local body wards in the State to press for the resignation of Mr. Vijayan.

The UDF meeting also reiterated its demand for a CBI inquiry into the allegation that the Chief Minister’s Office had shielded and enabled gold smugglers and other anti-national elements.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 9:20:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/covid-19-opposition-udf-says-kerala-govt-has-forsaken-patients/article32229251.ece

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