Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said COVID-19 regulations would endure for some more time. Nevertheless, the State could ill afford to extend the lockdown indefinitely. Kerala has to walk a tight rope between protecting life and livelihood.
Hence, the government will ease restrictions in a phased manner. Further relaxations will be in lockstep with the average test positivity rate (TPR). Lesser the TPR, higher the relaxations.
The weekend shutdown will continue until further notice. Public health experts warned the government against lifting lockdown regulations at a stroke. The State is nearing the goal of achieving herd immunity. It had ramped up vaccination.
Mr. Vijayan said the 48-hour lockdown, night curfew, ban on social gatherings, indoor dining, inessential travel and group activities had yielded high dividends on the pandemic control front.
The second COVID-19 wave had hit Kerala in May after it raged for two months in the northern States. On the crest of the wave, the TPR rate in Kerala was 29%. Daily infections had crossed the 40,000 mark.
Now the TPR is hovering above 10%. It has remained unyieldingly at the point, showing no signs of a potential dip. The number of daily infections plateaued at 14,000. An increase in the number of patients meant a rise in the death rate, he said.
Hence, citizens should not drop guard against the disease or slide back into complacency even as the State opened up slowly. The spectre of a third wave catalysed by more virulent variants of the virus loomed.
Mr. Vijayan said even at the peak of the second wave, Kerala’s hospitals never filled. The hospitalisation rate oscillated between 60 and 70 per cent. Kerala’s disease transmission rate had not crossed 11.4 per cent when the national average touched 21.6 per cent.
Kerala has to claw its way back to normalcy. It has to revive its economy at the earliest.
Mr. Vijayan said Kerala’s margin of error in reporting COVID-19 deaths was minimal. Ex-gratia assistance to non-resident Indians felled by COVID-19 was a Central subject.
Kerala was concerned about creating a new Cooperation Ministry at the Centre to administer a few multi-State cooperative societies. Cooperation was a State subject. Kerala, like other States, has sought more clarity in the matter.