A new controversy has erupted in Kerala after Kasaragod and Thrissur were excluded from the list of districts where restrictions have been imposed in the wake of surging COVID-19 cases in the state. The Opposition has alleged that this was done in order to ensure that CPI(M) district committee meetings could be held as planned in these two places.
As per the latest COVID-19 guidelines, the districts in the state have been divided into three categories A, B and C with appropriate restrictions depending on the number of hospitalisations in a district. The restrictions were earlier based on the test positivity rate. However, Kasaragod and Thrissur are notable exceptions as they do not come under any of the three categories.
Opposition leader VD Satheesan said that the Kerala government has manipulated the criteria for the restrictions with regard to COVID-19 as per their convenience to conduct the CPI(M) meetings. â€śCPI(M) conferences are happening in various districts, so they changed and manipulated the criteria for restrictions,â€ť he added.
Satheesan said while the Opposition cancelled their programmes for the next two weeks in the state due to the pandemic and is ready to follow the government protocol, the ruling party is not willing to go with government directions.
Even though TPR in Thrissur is more than 34%, the government is still categorising based on the number of patients admitted to hospitals, Satheesan added.
The CPI(M) meanwhile has decided to brazen it out and has defended the decision to go ahead with the committee meetings. Many leaders have appeared on the media claiming that physical distancing and masks will be ensured. Former state secretary of the CPI(M) Kodiyeri Balakrishnan retorted to VD Satheesan and said, â€śThe state government has fixed the category wise COVID-19 restrictions. The CPI(M) has not commented on it. CPI(M) would never want the party members to get sick.â€ť He further remarked that CPI(M) conventions were held following COVID-19 protocol, and no events were held in public places.
Meanwhile, the Kasaragod District Collector claimed that the decision to restrict public functions in the district was withdrawn in the wake of new guidelines that were issued. District Collector Bhandari Swagat Ranveer Chand denied media reports that she was pressurised to cancel the earlier order. She said that the order was issued based on state government guidelines and cancelled later based on new guidelines. She further welcomed the governmentâ€™s decision to categorise districts based on hospitalisations rather than TPR-based restrictions.
The Kerala government on Thursday, January 20 imposed fresh restrictions in the state as a preventive measure to contain the rising number of COVID-19 cases. A high-level COVID review meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan virtually from the United States, decided that only essential services should be allowed on the next two Sundays â€” January 23 and 30.
Further, restrictions will be imposed at district level on the basis of the number of people admitted to hospitals, the government said and authorised the Disaster Management Authority to divide the districts into three groups, A, B and C with varying restrictions.
The decision comes in the wake of rising cases of infection in the state, which logged 46,387 fresh COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the highest ever single day spike in infections.