COVID strain more virulent and spreading fast in Kerala, says CM Pinarayi

Pinarayi sheds his non-confrontationist Buddha bearing, tears into central agencies
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram: With over four lakh people undergoing treatment for coronavirus in the state, the Kerala government on Saturday decided to form ward-level committees in each panchayat to ensure proper COVID-19 treatment.

The state was facing more challenges in the present second wave, as the pathogen strain was more virulent and was spreading fast, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here.

Kerala recorded 41,971 fresh cases on Saturday, pushing the COVID-19 caseload to 18,66,827, while the toll mounted to 5,746 with 64 more deaths. Active cases stood at 4.17 lakh and at least 27,456 people were cured today, taking the total recoveries to 14,43,633.

In the last 24 hours,1,48,546 samples were tested and the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) was 28.25 per cent. So far, 1,69,09,361 samples have been tested.

Local bodies to play major role

The chief minister said the role played by local governments in controlling and preventing the first wave of the COVID outbreak was unparalleled.

"During this second phase also, they have an important proactive role to play by being at the forefront of COVID prevention," he said.

Pinarayi Vijayan, who held a meeting with representatives of local bodies, also directed them to mobilise the people and use all their resources to form a strong defence in the fight against COVID by joining hands with the government.

For this, the chief minister asked local bodies to form a core team in all panchayats and municipalities.

"These core committees should create ward-level committees in all wards. The ward-level committees will serve as the frontline of the fight," he said.

"There is a shortage of medical facilities in some local bodies. There are not enough CFLTCs or CLTCs or centres for those who cannot afford treatment at home. Such issues must be addressed urgently. Suitable places to open COVID treatment centres should be identified and prepared immediately. As part of this, adequate health workers, volunteers and cleaners should be found," he said.

"Places where the TPR is over 28 per cent, more caution needs to be extended," Vijayan said.

Enough ambulances should be ensured at treatment centres, he said, adding motorbikes can never replace ambulances, referring to an incident in which a seriously ill patient was transported on a bike from Punnapra domiciliary centre in Alappuzha district to save the person's life as ambulance was not available.

"A 24 hour control room is also proposed to be opened at the local body levels which should have details of COVID treatment centres. They should have medical teams. Doctors working in the government and private sector can be included in the local medical team."

"Ward level committees should ensure that no one goes without food or medicines especially during the lockdown," the chief minister said.

"With the possibility of the virus spreading high among the migrant workers, necessary care should be taken," he said.

Lockdown day 1 satisfactory, e-pass launched

With lockdown coming into force in the state from today, the chief minister said the response of the people on the first day was satisfactory.

People should not come out unnecessarily from their homes. Only in emergency situations, will a person be allowed to travel outside the district.

"They will have to get an online pass for travel. Only those who are in dire need to travel should apply for the online pass. One can apply for the pass at"

"Domestic workers and labourers under the essential services category who do not have an identity card can apply online. Their employers can also apply for them. Once the travel permit is obtained, the pass can be downloaded from this website itself," he said.

A self-declaration was sufficient for those going for vaccination and for those going to the nearest shops to buy essential items.

"A sample declaration is also available on this website and this can be prepared on a white paper in this format," Vijayan added.

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