Thiruvananthapuram: As coronavirus continues to rage throughout the state, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday termed the "situation" as "serious" and said the government will be forced to bring in more curbs in coming days as there is no respite to COVID surge.
During his sunset press brief, the chief minister said the government will deploy medical students and government officials to tackle the situation on the ground.
Kerala logged 41,953 fresh cases on Wednesday in the highest single day spike so far.
More 'troops' to the frontline
After reviewing the situation with top officials, Vijayan said instructions will be given to strengthen the ward-level committees and rapid response teams by incorporating the medical students from the areas.
Besides the returning officers, all other officials who had participated in the Assembly election process will also be included in such committees and teams to tackle the surge, he told a press conference.
"The State is going through a very serious situation and COVID is spreading rapidly. All figures are increasing and the test positivity rate is not reducing either. In these circumstances, we need to strengthen the restrictions," Vijayan said.
He said in view of the rise in the cases, more stringent measures will have to be taken to curb the surge in the state where severe lockdown-like restrictions were already in force.
The chief minister said steps will be taken to convert lodges and hostels as COVID-19 First Line Treatment Centres (CFLTCs).
Besides state government agencies like Consumerfed and Supplyco, political parties, NGOs, Overseas Malayalee Associations registered abroad and private agencies will be allowed to function as relief agencies.
Lockdown-like curbs in panchayats in Ernakulam
Terming the situation in Ernakulam as severe, the chief minister also said panchayats in Ernakulam district with over 25% test positivity rate (TPR) will be declared as containment zones and the areas will be brought under lockdown-like restriction.
He also announced lockdown in Manjapra, Munambam and Palakkuzha panchayats.
Following the announcement, Ernakulam District Collector announced 74 panchayats in the district as containment zones.
Strict restrictions will be applicable in the entire district except the following panchayats: Maneet, Kuttampuzha, Elanji, Chottanikkara, Edakkattuvayal, Vadavukodu - Puthenkurish, Arakuzha and Kizhakambalam, he said in a statement on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Union Health Ministry on Wednesday said the pandemic is spreading in fast pace in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Thrissur, Kottayam and Alappuzha districts in Kerala.
Lav Agarwal, Joint Health Secretary, during a press meet in New Delhi, said the pandemic is severe in Palakkad and Kollam district also.
Ramp up oxygen supply
The chief minister said as the number of COVID patients increases by the day, the need for oxygen has also increased.
"Oxygen stock is decreasing very rapidly. In this scenario, we need the Centres help in maintaining adequate stock of oxygen. I have requested the Prime Minister to provide 1,000 MT of imported liquefied medical oxygen to the state," he said.
He urged the centre to allot 500 MT as the first instalment from the current import quota.
"Another 500 MT may be allotted in the next phase. Consideration may also be given to allocating 500 MT from any steel plant near Kerala. In view of the increasing number of Covid patients, Kerala should be provided with as many oxygen tankers, PSA plants, oxygen concentrators and ventilators as possible on a high priority basis," Vijayan said.
He also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the state should be allotted 50 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine and 25 lakh doses of Covaxin.
The Centre should take into account the number of people waiting for the second dose and those who have registered for the first dose while allocating vaccines to the states.
He also assured the Prime Minister that Kerala would be at the forefront of the fight against the COVID pandemic collaborating with the central government.