Opposition argues against lockdown

‘Crowd management should be the watchword’

April 19, 2021 06:49 pm | Updated April 20, 2021 12:01 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

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Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on Monday strongly argued against a Statewide lockdown to curb the COVID-19 resurgence.

In a letter to Kerala Governor Arif Muhammad Khan, Mr. Chennithala said a shutdown would crater the economy and wipe out jobs.

He said restricting shop timings was counterproductive. It would lead to panic buying and overcrowding. Instead, the administration should extend business timings.

Authorities should ask shop owners to institute a token system to allot time to customers in advance. Crowd management should be the watchword and not lockdown, he said.

However, Mr. Chennithala called for strict enforcement of the pandemic protocol in hotspots to prevent the flare-ups from radiating out to other localities. He called for enforcing the social distancing and mask mandate via consensus.

Mr. Chennithala said the government required redefining hospital admission protocol. The pandemic scare had caused the rich and the influential with mild symptoms to get hospitalised as a precaution. Hence, the critically ill found themselves without beds.

He said private hospitals should follow a referral system. Mr. Chennithala flagged the need to regulate the cost of COVID-19 treatment at private hospitals. He said the administration should ensure the availability of medical oxygen, beds, ventilators, steroids and anti-viral medication.

The government should enumerate the number of ICUs and ventilators in the public and private sector. It should form a shared pool of critical medical care equipment and apportion it as required.

The Centre’s insurance coverage for health workers had expired in March. Mr. Chennithala sought Mr. Khan’s intervention to extend the protection till December.

He also requested a stay on the move by NABARD to recover agriculture loans. Mr. Chennithala also asked Mr. Khan to ensure Kerala had enough vaccine shots. He said any decision on Thrissur Pooram should involve all stakeholders.

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