Kerala CM Pinarayi to hold all-party meet today on second total lockdown, Opposition against move

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File  

An all-party meeting to be chaired by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan via videoconference at 3.30 p.m. on Friday is expected to weigh the pros and cons of a proposal for a lockdown entirely for an indefinite period given the ‘dire’ COVID-19 situation in the State.

A special Cabinet meeting later on Monday (July 27) might take a final decision in the matter that had profound social and economic implications for Kerala.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) would oppose any move to lock down the State.

He felt the government might better serve the cause to defeat the pandemic if it walled up hotspots from the rest of the State and allowed life and commerce to continue unimpeded in localities outside the epicentre of fresh flare-ups and newly formed disease clusters.

The people were at their wit’s end. They were understandably hostile to crippling lockdowns that seemed to prolong indefinitely. Unemployment and loss of livelihood were on the rise. He termed the move to restrict life and trade further as ‘ham-fisted’.

‘Give free rations’

Instead, the government should identify hotspots and shut them down to prevent the disease from radiating out to other localities. The administration should relax the restrictions when the ground situation improved. The State should provide free rations, and provisions to people hit by novel coronavirus.

The government’s defence against COVID-19 appeared to have fallen apart. Mr. Vijayan could do better than merely making statements and using his daily COVID-19 news briefing as a political pulpit to berate the Opposition and cover up the government’s shortcomings, Mr. Chennithala said.

An official said the government might be compelled to lock down Kerala if the pandemic situation continued to deteriorate. The State could not afford an unmanageable rise in the number of new cases. The number of new infections reported daily had touched the thousandth mark for the second consecutive day on Thursday. An uncontrollable spread could overwhelm the State's finite health resources.

The government has put hospitals and first-line treatment centres on notice to handle an influx of patients. It has commandeered more ventilators, liquid oxygen cylinders and ambulances, fearing a further surge in cases.

The government has asked the police, local body officials, volunteers and the health services to brace themselves for a high number of admissions.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 2:32:02 PM |

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