Pinarayi Vijayan likely to hold online review meeting on Monday as COVID-19 cases rise
The meeting will examine whether to reimpose the weekend lockdown and night curfew eased because of the Independence Day and Onam holidays
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan might chair an online meeting on Monday to weigh whether to reintroduce certain restrictions lifted for Onam, including the weekend lockdown, given the continuous increase in COVID-19 infections in the State.
The Chief Minister is currently in Kannur. An official said Mr. Vijayan was likely to preside over the proposed meeting remotely with senior health, police and revenue officials joining him via a secure videoconferencing link.
Meanwhile, Kerala continued to report one of the highest infection rates in the country, with the average test positivity rate (TPR) touching 17.73% on Saturday.
Active cases touched 1,78,462 on Saturday. The death count on Onam day was 83.
Malappuram reported the highest number of new positive cases (2,558), followed by Kozhikode (2,236), Thrissur (2,027), Ernakulam (1,957) and Palakkad (1,624). Thiruvananthapuram, the State capital, reported 844 new COVID-19 cases.
A police official said there was fear that the TPR might rise again and push the State back to another severe phase of the pandemic.
Low death rate
The relatively low death rate, a high recovery percentage, and enhanced vaccination coverage were mitigating factors.
Nevertheless, reports of increasing COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalisation in Ernakulam, Kozhikode and Palakkad remained a cause of concern.
An official said the meeting would dissect whether the dialling down of some restrictions for Onam holidays had accelerated the spread of the disease.
Another official said the ban on indoor events and gatherings was unlikely to be scrapped anytime soon, given the spectre of a Delta variant driven third-wave.
The mask and physical mandate and ban on indoor dining were likely to continue. Shopping malls and cinema halls were likely to remain closed.
Ideally, the government wanted to open educational institutions from the higher secondary level and upwards by September middle without risking another coronavirus surge.
It might consider electronic health passes stored in mobile phones, including recent RT-PCR negative and vaccination certificate, to further open various sectors, including shopping, entertainment and sporting activities.
The meeting will examine whether to reimpose the weekend lockdown and night curfew eased because of the Independence Day and Onam holidays. Some officials felt the reintroduction of the restrictions were necessary to pre-empt another protracted lockdown.
They might also recommend a reversal to a work-from-home scheme for some non-essential sectors. Officials said the government would continue to impose total lockdown in demarcated hotspots while allowing a measure of normality in localities immediately outside the micro containment zones.