Kerala

Kerala might curb civic life on weekends

People stand in queue to test for COVID -19 at the primary health centre at Kadavanthra on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

Kerala government is mulling near-total curtailment of civic life on weekends to slow down the transmission of the resurgent COVID-19 virus.

A top-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday reportedly weighed in, allowing only essential services to operate on April 24 and 25th.

It might even declare Saturday a government holiday.

The government is yet to call it a weekend lockdown.

However, it might request citizens to sequester themselves indoors as far as possible on Saturday and Sunday to drastically reduce the probability of virus spread.

Citizens can conduct marriages and housewarming ceremonies already registered on the COVID-19 Jagratha portal.

The police are likely to shut down weekend destinations, including parks, beaches and hill stations, which witness sizeable crowds on holidays, for the weekend.

The administration will scale down commercial activity. It might request traders to down shutters for 48 hours and close down markets and commercial hubs.

Kerala had on Tuesday imposed a night curfew (9 p.m. to 5 a.m.) till May 3.

An official says the meeting viewed the pandemic situation as grave. The State recorded 19,577 new cases on Tuesday.

Its test positivity rate hovered around 17.45 %.

It feared the virus surge might incrementally overwhelm the State's finite public health resources if not curbed immediately.

The meeting considered increasing the number of Covid-19 First-Line Treatment Centres (CFLTC), given the possibility of a virus mutant-driven disease surge.

Shortage of vaccine, the rising demand for hospital beds, ventilators, medical oxygen, anti-viral drugs and steroids has worried the administration.

A special health department task force will monitor "infrastructure and capacity" in health facilities across Kerala daily. The unit will report to the CM at 3.30 p.m. daily.

Public disquiet over vaccine scarcity is mounting. In Kottayam, the police had to placate citizens angered over the lack of vaccine doses.

Hence, the government might stop on-the-spot registration and urge citizens to book their vaccination slots online.

Mr. Vijayan has written to the centre for at least 50 lakh vaccine doses. He asked the centre to supply the medicine free of cost given the State's COVID-19 cratered finances.

Mr. Vijayan reportedly called for uniformity in pandemic related orders. Confusion over whether traders should down shutters at 7.30 p.m. or 9 p.m. had caused frayed tempers.

An official says the government might allow shops outside containment zones to operate till 9 p.m. However, malls and cinema halls should shutter at 7.30 p.m.

An official says a proposal to scale down attendance at government offices to 50 per cent is on the cards.

The government will emphasize work from home and urge the private sector to follow suit.

The administration has banned in-person tuition classes and summer camps. It has urged students and teachers to shift to online platforms.

The government has disallowed indoor dining in hotels in containment zones. It might further restrict the number of attendees at weddings and other social functions.

The government will raise a volunteer force, as it did in 2020, to aid health officials and local body representatives to manage the pandemic situation at the neighbourhood level.

The administration is considering mass vaccination camps for guest workers. Health inspectors will check their quarters and ensure their welfare.

The meeting also weighed distributing additional rations and food kits to the population.

Mr. Vijayan is likely to make a public announcement in the evening.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 12:28:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-weekend-coronavirus/article34375679.ece

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