THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Union Minister V Muraleedharan has refuted Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s argument that Covid tests could not be made mandatory for expatriates as the Centre’s intervention in the matter had failed.“The Centre was not trying to implement in foreign countries what Kerala had demanded. On the other hand, the Centre was trying to convince the state that raising such a demand was foolish,” Muraleedharan said in a statement.
He said India cannot intervene in the health protocol of a foreign country and the matter was clearly conveyed to the state government. “The CM demanded conducting of TrueNat tests in Gulf countries. Before raising such a demand, the CM should have at least consulted Loka Kerala Sabha members in those countries to ascertain whether such a test was permitted,” he said.
He also accused Pinarayi of trying to hide the fact that only a small percentage of expatriates who arrived in flights were infected with coronavirus. Instead, the CM was trying to create a scare in the name of ‘super spread’, he said. Meanwhile, the chief minister refused to join issue with Muraleedharan. “I don’t see this as a serious criticism. Everyone is aware of the facts. If he (Muraleedharan) is not aware of it, he can consult with the Central government,” Pinarayi responded.
MEA appreciates state’s ‘pragmatic approach’
T’Puram: Even as Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan flayed the state government for insisting on Covid test for homebound Malayali expats, the Centre has complimented the state’s ‘pragmatic approach’ in trying to contain the spread of Covid during the return of expatriates.
In a letter to Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Secretary, MEA, appreciated the state’s proposals such as wearing N95 mask, face shield and gloves by expatriates. The official said the special requirements of Kerala government will be shared with Indian Ambassadors in the Gulf to facilitate smooth return of Indian nationals through the Vande Bharat Mission flights.