More restrictions in Kerala to curb COVID surge

A wall graffiti to spread awareness against COVID-19 in Kottayam
A wall graffiti to spread awareness against COVID-19 in Kottayam. Photo: Rijo Joseph

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala government has decided to step up the vigil as the state is likely in the grip of a second wave of COVID-19 exactly a year after the pandemic let loose the world over. New restrictions on public activities were announced on Monday.

Kerala, with a test positivity rate of 12.53 per cent, reported 5,692 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, pushing the caseload to 11,72,882.

"Now there is a surge in cases after the elections and we are trying to crush the curve and save more lives," Health Minister K K Shailaja stated referring to the current goal of bringing the down the daily count and the Legislative Assembly election held on April 6.

New restrictions

The following measures have been announced by the State government in the wake of latest surge in COVID-19 cases.

• Restaurants and shops are to close at 9pm.

• Public events should be limited to two hours.

• Maximum 200 people allowed at functions.

• Only 100 people allowed for closed-door events.

• Restaurants to function with only 50 per cent of its seating capacity.

• Ban on mega shopping festivals.

• No serving of food during public functions. Packed food can be given instead.

• Ward-level committees would be strengthened to monitor the COVID-19 cases.

Availability of vaccine

The Health Minister also disclosed that the current stock of vaccines would not be adequate for the the mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19.

"Kerala would require more vaccines than now being supplied by the Centre. A request has been made to the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to supply enough vaccines for this drive," Shailaja said, while adding, "the Centre promptly delivers them whenever the state puts forward a request when stocks are down."

"But now we are a bit worried as we have started the mass vaccination campaign. The current stock will not be enough for this purpose," she said.

The Health Minister also informed that the State has so far administered 50 lakh doses of Covishield and Covaxin vaccine.

"The state has so far given 50,71,550 doses of COVID-19 vaccine (49,19,234 dose Covishield and 1,52,316 dose Covaxin). Out of these 45,48,054 people got the first dose while 5,23,496 received the second dose," she stated in a press release.

Kerala CM seeks 50 lakh additional doses

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday sought an additional 50 lakh doses of COVID vaccine from the Centre, saying that the state had sufficient stocks only for the next three days.

He put forward this request in a letter to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and said the shortage has been brought to the notice of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare by the Chief Secretary, as well as the Principal Secretary, Health.

"So far the state has received 56,84,360 doses of COVID vaccine, including 54,40,740 of Covishield and 2,43,620 of Covaxin and we have administered 48,24,505 doses till April 11.

The stock which is left with us is sufficient for conducting vaccination for the next three days only," he said.

He requested Vardhan to allot an additional 50 lakh doses of vaccine in the next couple of days, so that the vaccination programme of Kerala proceeds uninterrupted.

"We are yet to get any additional supply of COVID vaccine," Vijayan said.

In his letter, the chief minister said the state has strengthened the surveillance and prevention systems to ensure that COVID-19 protocol is being adhered to.

He also pointed out that Kerala has been administering two lakh doses per day and planned to increase it to 2.5 to three lakh doses per day.

On Monday, the state reported 5,692 COVID-19 cases and 11 related deaths.

The health department said there are 1,826 vaccination centres across Kerala, including 1,402 in government hospitals and 424 in private hospitals.

(With inputs from PTI)

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