Kerala will go under complete lockdown this weekend as the state reports a surge in coronavirus cases, leading to fear of an imminent third wave.
The southern state has been reporting a high number of infections for the past many weeks even as the overall numbers across the country have been falling rapidly since the second wave peak.
A day after the Health Ministry sounded an alarm over the situation potentially blowing over, the Centre has decided to send a six-member team from the National Centre for Disease Control to the state to assess the situation and aid the state’s Covid management efforts.
“As a large number of Covid cases are still being reported in Kerala, the team will aid the state’s ongoing efforts in Covid management," said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.
An increasing ‘R’ value, or Covid reproduction rate, in Kerala had earlier this month triggered concerns of a renewed wave, which could even fuel a national spike.
Kerala on Wednesday recorded 22,056 fresh COVID-19 cases pushing the infection caseload to 33,27,301, with the number of people who succumbed to the virus rising to 16,457 with 131 more deaths. As many as 17,761 people have been cured of the infection, taking the total recoveries to 31,60,804 and the number of active cases to 1,49,534, a state government release said.
In the last 24 hours, 1,96,902 samples were tested and the TPR was found to be 11.2 per cent.So far, 2,67,33,694 samples have been tested, it said. Some of the worst affected districts in the state are Malappuram (3931), Thrissur (3005), Kozhikode (2400), Ernakulam (2397), Palakkad (1649), Kollam (1462), Alappuzha (1461), Kannur (1179), Thiruvananthapuram (1101) and Kottayam (1067).
The BJP on Wednesday blamed “politics of appeasement" for the rise in COVID-19 cases in Kerala and criticised the state government for the relaxations in restrictions it had given for Eid-ul-Adha. Noting that the state’s latest daily tally of over 22,000 cases is more than half of the country, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the Left government there went ahead with relaxations for the festival despite the Supreme Court expressing its displeasure over it.
Addressing a press conference, Patra said states like Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh followed the apex court’s directions to call off ‘Kanwar Yatra’ but the Kerala government did not pay heed to it on Eid-ul-Adha. “Politics of appeasement won, and the SC’s suggestions were not followed… It appears that another wave (of Covid) has started in Kerala," Patra said, citing news reports.
“Who is responsible for that? Kerala has today reported the maximum number of cases since May 29. It once appeared that things were getting under the control. The Kerala government has made some mistake," he said, adding the state’s caseload has been rising for the last four weeks. The BJP spokesperson also hit out at the Congress government in Rajasthan over the birthday celebrated by its Health Minister Raghu Sharma at an indoor stadium.
The lives of hundreds of people were endangered, he alleged. While schools and colleges are shut due to the Covid scare, the state government is endangering people’s lives with such celebrations, Patra added.