Eleven more private hospitals in Kerala have joined the state government's Karunya Benevolent Fund scheme, aiding the poor during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Chief Minister designate Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday. Through the Karunya Benevolent Fund scheme, the state government provides free or subsidised treatment facilities for financially downtrodden families who are part of the scheme. The private hospitals part of the scheme will provide subsidised treatment for those enrolled in the Karunya scheme.
"Following the request of the government, 11 new private hospitals in the state have now become part of the Karunya project. I heartily congratulate them. More hospitals should follow this. It will help to give free treatment for many more people," Pinarayi Vijayan said in the press meet on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, he also added that private hospitals should strictly comply in order to keep aside 50% of the beds for treatment of COVID-19 patients. The government has also issued show cause notices to private hospitals that have still not complied with this.
As Kerala's per day COVID-19 cases crossed 37,000 on Tuesday, Pinarayi Vijayan also added that the virus would take some more days to peak in the second wave of the infection and cases could soar further.
The state should expect an increased spread of the disease due to the high Test Positivity Rate (TPR), which was 26.08% on Tuesday, Vijayan told reporters.
"The TPR is still high, indicating that it will take some more time for the disease to reach its peak in Kerala.This needs to be reduced significantly," he said.
Kerala logged 37,190 fresh cases on Tuesday taking the active cases to 3,56,872. Fifty-seven recent deaths were confirmed due to COVID-19 and the toll has climbed to 5,507. He also added that a study conducted by the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital has pointed out that 56% of people were getting infected in their homes.
Kerala has gone for stringent restrictions from May 4 to May 9 in addition to the weekend lockdown, he said. The extension of the restrictions and imposition of full lockdown will be decided after a review at the end of this week,Vijayan said.
"The only way is to stay indoors as far as possible. If one remains indoors, a Japanese study says the spread was brought down by 60%. Hence we also should abide by that. We have now directed that all those essential offices which need to be open will function with 25% staff. Absolute caution has to be maintained by all. At the slightest indication of a cough, sneezing and cold one should ensure that all at home wear masks and the concerned person should undergo the COVID-19 test," said Vijayan.
He added that the state government is doing its best to increase the surge capacity of the state to tackle the present spread and the state-owned KTDC hotels will be kept ready if the need arises.
According to Vijayan, the state currently has a stock of 2.4 lakh vaccine doses which will only last a maximum of two days.
"Four lakh doses of Covishield and 75,000 doses of Covaxin are expected to arrive today (Tuesday). As of May 3, we have a stock of 270.2 MT of liquid oxygen and 8.97 MT of medical oxygen cylinders. We currently need 108.35 MT of oxygen per day and steps are being taken to ensure oxygen availability."
Though the state had so far received 73,38,860 doses of vaccine from the Union government, it could vaccinate more people as from each vial vaccines were used carefully. The problem the state was now facing was non-availability of vaccines.The Union government should either be prepared to give free vaccines to those over 45 years of age or ensure adequate supply of vaccines to enable the states to procure them, Pinarayi Vijayan said. Kerala has written to the Union government several times to solve the vaccine shortage, he added.
(With agency inputs)