THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: KERALA, which has been battling a spike in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, has come in for criticism from the central government for lowering its guard against the pandemic.Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, speaking in his online talk show ‘Sunday Samwad’, said the state was paying the price for its “gross negligence” during Onam.
He said an increase in travel and public activities during the festive season led to a rise of 1.35 lakh confirmed cases between October 1 and 17. Kerala celebrated Onam from August 22 to September 2.
“The epi curve changed completely during the Onam festivities as daily cases nearly doubled,” he said. The minister said the infection probability in the state increased by 32 per cent after September 8 and it was proof that large gatherings can cause rapid spread of the virus. The spike in Covid cases after having good control over the pandemic in the initial stage was one of the four topics discussed by Dr Harsh Vardhan during his talk.
He cited Kerala as a warning for other states against lowering the guard ahead of the festival season including Diwali and Dussehra. His warning came after a central government- appointed committee warned of sharp increase in Covid cases during the festive season across the country.
State Health Minister K K Shailaja, however, downplayed the union minister’s comments.“The chief minister himself had admitted that we weren’t careful during the Onam season,” she said, adding the union health minister was probably warning other states not to make the same mistake ahead of the festival season in the north.
“We’ve been talking regularly and he has always been encouraging and praising our efforts. I don’t know how such a comment has appeared on his Twitter handle,” Shailaja said, referring to a statement the central minister wrote on the microblogging site, which read: ‘How Kerala’s performance against COVID19 worsen?’
The chief minister had earlier blamed the festival season for the spike in cases and introduced tougher measures including invoking CrPC Section 144 to prevent crowding.