Thiruvananthapuram: Stating that Kerala is prepared to handle the worst, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said there was a time when it seemed that the coronavirus crisis would go out hand, but that did not happen.
He said the health authorities identified each and every patient and their contacts and quarantined them, thus, salvaging an impending disaster.
However, the government decided against easing of certain lockdown restrictions, including plying of buses, opening of restaurants and pillion riding on two-wheelers, after the Centre took strong objection to the matter on Monday.
Vijayan, who have updates on the coronavirus outbreak in the state, said, “At one point, it felt as if things would go out of hand. One patient infected 23 others and another 12 contracted the virus from them. It could have been disastrous, but we carefully identified each person and isolated them. Found out the route maps of all these people and identified their contacts and quarantined them.”
On Monday, six people tested positive for COVID-19 in the state — all from Kannur district with five of them having a travel history. As many as 21 people recovered from the disease during the day, taking the total number of recoveries in the state to 291. This takes the total number of cases in the state to 408 of which 114 are active.
Vijayan said Kerala initially topped the list of COVID-19 patients in India, but things have improved drastically in the state.
“Our neighbouring state closed its borders terming Kerala as the land of COVID. On April 4, we had over 1.7 lakh people under observation, today that figure has been brought down to about 46,000.
“The global average of coronavirus mortality is 5.8%. In India, it is 2.8%, while in Kerala, it is only 0.56%,” he said.
Regarding the state’s preparedness, the chief minister said, “We have 800 ventilators in government hospitals. As many as 81,904 beds are kept as a back-up in private hospitals. There are 6,059 ICU beds and 1,078 ventilators ready in these hospitals.”
Vijayan said his government has requested the Centre to help bring back Keralites stuck abroad in a special flight, adding that quarantine facilities for about 2 lakh people have been kept ready to take care of expats, if brought back.
Meanwhile, Day 1 of the relaxations, announced on Sunday, saw scores of people hitting the roads in their four-wheelers and two-wheelers in various parts of the state, including coronavirus hotspots, and confusions galore over the effect of the easing of the norms.
After initially saying there was some “misunderstanding”, due to which the Centre had objected to the easing of the lockdown protocol for controlling coronavirus, the state government decided to roll back some of the relaxations and Chief Secretary Tom Jose asserted the Centre and the states “are in this fight (against coronavirus) together”.
On this, Vijayan said people started thinking that things are back to normal and too many vehicles started plying on the roads. “We have to be cautious. This cannot be allowed,” CM said.
Health Minister KK Shailaja said just because there had been some relaxation, people have come out in large numbers. People should strictly follow social distancing and other norms to keep the virus at bay, she said, adding, “If we are careful, we will not have to regret,” she said.
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