Highest single-day spurt in COVID-19 cases ‘a grave warning’, says Kerala C.M.

Published : May 22, 2020 20:37 IST

A cartoon wall in cities and towns is part of strengthening the break the chain campaign organised by the Kerala government. Here one such space inaugurated recently in Thiruvananthapuram. Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

With 42 persons testing positive, Kerala recorded its highest single-day spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases today. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the increase was “a grave warning” and also a message that Kerala needs to strengthen COVID-19 prevention measures on a big scale.

Of the 42 positive cases, 21 had returned home from Maharashtra, one each from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and 17 had come from abroad. Two persons got the disease through contact with other patients.

In all, 732 persons have so far tested positive for the disease in the State, of which 216 are still under treatment. The Chief Minister said there is also an increase in the number of peoples put under observation, with 83,649 persons under quarantine in government facilities or their own homes. On Friday alone, 162 people have been admitted to hospitals. There are 23 hotspots in the State as of now.

Asked whether the sudden increase in the number of cases in the State, which had so far contained the spread of the disease quite efficiently, was because of the easing of lockdown restrictions, the Chief Minister said it was clearly not linked to the relaxations. He said: “If you look at the data, almost all those who have tested positive are those who have come from outside Kerala. The easing of lockdown restrictions was needed for life in general to move on. At the same time, we must be clear that Keralites who return to their home State have every right to do so. Among them there may be people who are already sick; or some of them may fall sick after coming back to Kerala. We must welcome them all but take all the precautions needed for their safety as well as of those who are in the State. This has been our plan all along.”

The Chief Minister said the spike in the number of positive cases was not entirely unexpected and it was likely that more and more cases would be reported because the government expected more Keralites to return to the State in the coming days. “We will not close our doors on any Keralite. We are also not going to throw up our hands because of anxiety about the steady daily increase in the number of positive cases. We will offer the necessary facilities for diagnosis, treatment and care to all. Among those who come to State there may be those who are seriously ill. We may need to admit more people into hospitals. We have made arrangements for all this, including provision of ventilator facilities. In the coming days we will be giving priority to such interventions. At the same time, we have allowed concessions in lockdown restrictions. The concessions are allowed to take life forward. But people should not try to celebrate the occasion.”

With the partial reopening of public transport facilities, many towns and cities in the State are experiencing a heavy rush of people in the past few days. Pinarayi Vijayan also drew attention to rising instances of people coming out in large numbers with the aged and children. “The very idea of reverse quarantine measures is to prevent virus infection on children, the aged and other vulnerable sections of people. The people who are accountable to keep them home and safe should not forget their responsibility. These restrictions are not something that have to be imposed. People should do it out of conviction. Cases are charged and repeated reminders are needed only when people forget to do this on their own,” he said.

Kerala needs to understand that what it is going through at present is a graver situation than what it has so far experienced. “But we have to overcome this situation. I repeat: We cannot say these people should not come back home. But when they arrive, there is a risk. While being aware of such a danger we need to protect them, as well as take measures that the disease does not spread to those within the State. That is why the need to follow certain regulations and new habits. We need to show unity and solidarity for this and do it right,” he said at his daily evening press briefing.

A total of 82,290 people had returned to Kerala till May 22, 6218 of them through airports, 1621 through the Kochi seaport, 72,315 through road check posts and 2,136 by rail.

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