Kerala

Kerala's fight against COVID-19 pandemic set to intensify, says new Chief secretary

Vishwas Mehta with outgoing Chief Secretary Tom Jose.

Vishwas Mehta with outgoing Chief Secretary Tom Jose.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The guard against the spread of the pandemic should evolve into a movement of the people, said Kerala’s new Chief secretary Dr. Vishwas Mehta

Kerala's new Chief secretary Dr. Vishwas Mehta on Monday said the fight against COVID-19 was set to intensify with the resumption of land, air and sea travel.

After assuming office at the Government Secretariat here, Mr. Mehta said Kerala faced a particularly severe challenge in preventing the transmission of the disease from those bound home from epidemic hotspots within the country and abroad. The State also needed to tread cautiously so as not to cause new flareups when the economy opened up, free travel resumed, and life shuffled back to normalcy.

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Mr. Mehta said the police might find it challenging to assign an officer to every home which had people in quarantine. Hence, the guard against the spread of the pandemic should evolve into a movement of the people.

Members of the neighbourhood watch, volunteers and elected office-bearers of local self-government institutions should forge themselves as a bulwark against the spread of the coronavirus.

Individual citizens should view wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and following the health protocol as their civic responsibility.

Mr. Mehta indicated that the manner of the fight against the pandemic would change as the country eased COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and the diaspora returned home in higher numbers. Hence, the resistance against the spread of disease was likely to be a long haul.

He indicated that Kerala could not allow the pandemic to disrupt its "priority projects". Pandemic prevention and the State's development have to go hand-in-hand.

The Government had prioritised the completion of GAIL pipeline project, the piped supply of cooking gas to households and affordable fibre optic cable supported high-speed and seamless internet connectivity to homes and business. The construction of the high-speed Thiruvananthapuram-Kasargode rail corridor (532 km) was another prime concern. The proposed rail connectivity could reduce travel time and open up the hinterlands of the State for development. The government has also given precedence to the construction of industrial level and environment-friendly garbage disposal and sewage treatment plants across Kerala.

Outgoing Chief Secretary Tom Jose welcomed Mr. Mehta with a bouquet and ushered him to his seat.

Mr. Mehta praised Mr. Jose for the resilience and administrative insight he had shown as Chief Secretary in the past "tumultuous" 23-month period.

Mr. Mehta said he hoped to continue from where Mr. Jose had left off and would strive to live up to the legacy of his predecessor.

He sought the cooperation of the bureaucracy. State Police Chief Loknath Behera and City Police Commissioner Balaram Kumar Upadhyaya were present.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 5:00:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/keralas-fight-against-pandemic-set-to-intensify-says-new-chief-secretary/article31721838.ece

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