The Health Department will come out with a protocol soon.

Frontline workers amid the coronavirus pandemic in IndiaImage for representation: PTI
Coronavirus Coronavirus Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 21:54

In a crucial announcement, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday said that private hospitals in the state will be allowed to treat COVID-19 patients. A protocol for this will soon be finalised by the Health Department. 

The announcement made by the Chief Minister that private hospitals will be pulled in for treating COVID-19 patients appears indicative that the government foresees a spike in the number of new patients in the state. 

He added, “If the COVID-19 situation in the state becomes more severe, we will need more treatment centres. We should have a list of hospitals, so we are starting the preparation,” the CM said.

“No one has depended on private hospitals for COVID-19 so far. But if people again want to avail private hospital facilities, they can. We have talked with some hospitals. Will take measures to unify treatment charges,” he added. 

Pinarayi Vijayan also noted that those who are already under treatment for other diseases by a particular doctor may prefer to get treated in the same hospital if they are tested positive for COIVID-19.

This announcement comes days after Kerala opened few frontline treatment centres in the state to treat patients who are asymptomatic. Frontline treatment centres are facilities where community halls or similar facilities are converted to temporary hospitals. 

Meanwhile, the state recorded one more COVID-19 death, taking the total death toll to 19. A Kannur native who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on Wednesday succumbed on Thursday. The person had liver ailments, the CM said.

With 83 new COVID-19 patients, the state’s total is at 2,245. Of these, 1,258 people are under treatment presently. 

‘Govt abided by Centre’s rules on places of worship’

Shunning the criticisms raised by BJP leader and Union Minister V Muraleedharan that Kerala government showed ‘haste’ in opening religious institutions, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the government has only gone by the Centre’s guidelines.

“If the state government went against the Centre and said that Kerala won’t open religious institutions, what would have happened? They were waiting for it. Now they have flipped the narrative, but then they would have said that our government has not been mindful of the feelings of devotees,” said Pinarayi Vijayan. 

He added that the state government has always gone by the Union government’s directions on the lockdown regulations. “We have also considered the opinion of the religious leaders,” the CM added.

As per the Centre’s direction, the Kerala government had announced that religious institutions can be opened, albeit with restrictions. However, a majority of the Christian and Muslim religious authorities said that they will continue to remain shut. However, major Hindu temples including Sabarimala temple under the Travancore Devaswom Board announced opening. But a day ago, the priests of the temple had come out saying they do not want the temple to be opened for devotees, and it was decided on Thursday that Sabarimala will not be open for devotees.