Curbs may continue beyond May 3

Spike in cases in Idukki, Kottayam have forced the govt. to do a rethink

Lockdown restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 might continue even beyond May 3.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday hinted that the State would have to brace itself for a further prolongation of the stifling regulations on social life and economic activity, including curb-side retail business.

He said the new flare-ups in Idukki and Kottayam had forced the government to do a rethink.

“The government will have to evaluate the lockdown situation against the backdrop of its experience in the two districts and set a new course after May 3,” he said.

The State government had pitched for a partial lockdown till May 15. It sought a calibrated lessening of limitations on life and commerce. However, with six districts in Kerala categorised as “red zones,” the government might be compelled to whittle down the list of exemptions further.

Nearly 2.76-lakh Non-Resident Keralites (NoRKs) have expressed their intent to return. A majority were from pandemic hotspots in the Gulf. The government could not ignore the spectre of a resurgence of the disease. Tens of thousands of NoRKs were expected to arrive in the State as soon as the Centre allowed special flights.

A significant number of Keralites stranded in other States were also expected to come back. The State could not afford a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Moreover, porous borders with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu increased the risk of infections spilling over into the State. At least five districts in Kerala were reckoned vulnerable from infections passed on by people arriving illegally from across the State's borders.

Health authorities have found that the unrestricted cross border movement of people had caused new cases in Idukki, which has a significant Tamil population. Thiruvananthapuram was also considered unsafe due to its proximity with Kanyakumari district in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

An official said the government would have to formulate a plan of action that struck a delicate balance between containment of the contagion and resurrection of economic activity.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 2:57:39 PM |

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