Kerala Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said the decision to entrust certain COVID-19 mitigation responsibilities with the police force was taken to ease the burden of the health workers who have been waging the war against the pandemic for months.
The duty of the health workers had not been delegated and the police were only asked to help them trace contacts, ensure home quarantine and containment zone restrictions, he said, joining issue with opposition Congress which has questioned the decision.
The Chief minister lashed at Leader of the Opposition in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala for claiming that the decision would lead to "Police Raj" and claimed such 'propaganda' was aimed at demoralising the healthcare system and putting in danger the whole society itself.
Chennithala had on Tuesday said COVID-19 pandemic was a health emergency and not a law and order issue and hence theHealth department alone should lead the prevention activities.
In an "open letter" to the chief minister, he had also alleged Vijayan has "insulted" the Health officials by involving the police in COVID work. "We are not planning to dismiss any criticism against the state government. But we cannot entertain false propaganda and fake campaigns in the guise of criticism," Vijayan said.
He said police were always involved in the COVID-19 mitigation process along with the health workers and the local self-government staff. These days, the burden on the health workers had increased due to the rise in the number of patients, people under observation and increasing primary contact cases among others.
"Contact tracing has become a huge process. There are people with wide contact list and it was to help those health workers who have been doing this tracing for a long period, we have asked the police to do the work. Moreover, the police can trace the people with the help of technology," Vijayan added.
With the COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, the LDF government had on Monday decided to bring in stringent measures to contain the spread and had entrusted police with the task of contact tracing and enforcing quarantine protocols.