With a spike in COVID-19 cases through local transmission in Kerala, the state government is holding discussions about the possibility of imposing complete lockdown across the state.
A decision on lockdown would be taken after consultations with all stakeholders, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
The state reported 1,078 fresh cases out of which 798 contracted the disease through their contacts, marking back-to-back four digit spikes after 1,038 cases on Wednesday, causing concern.
"We need to discuss the matter with everyone in the society. The medical experts have given their opinion. An option of complete lockdown cannot be ruled out yet but a decision has not yet been taken. We need to introspect all the aspects related to it and take a decision accordingly," Pinarayi told reporters when asked about the government's plan on lockdown.
The total infection tally has touched 16,110 and the death toll has climbed to 50 with five more COVID-19 deaths reported from different districts.
The worst hit Thiruvananthapuram district, with 222 fresh cases on Thursday, has 2,583 patients under treatment, followed by Ernakulam 989, Alappuzha 763 and Kollam 745.
A total of 1,58,117 people are under observation in the state.
The CM also announced the formation of "COVID Brigade" consisting of doctors, paramedical staff and volunteers to man the First Line Treatment Centres (FLTC) that would treat asymptomatic and less complicated COVID-19 patients, and said additional manpower would be mobilised for them.
More people are needed to strengthen COVID defensive operations in view of the rising number of cases. We have worked out an integrated action plan. In addition to the staff in the health department, more contract health workers, including those from the National Health Mission, will be appointed," he said.
They would get a higher salary as determined from time to time and there will be a proportional increase. Besides, health insurance cover and incentives would be extended to them.
The brigade should be seen as an army that includes doctors, nurses, other paramedical staff as well as volunteers to combat the virus, he said.
Certificates of appreciation will be given to student volunteers who have been involved in the COVID defence activities, he said, adding that remuneration for those currently engaged in these activities would be increased.
On the upcoming Eid festival, Pinarayi said the government had held discussions with the religious leaders, who had agreed to celebrate the day by strictly following COVID-19 health protocols.
"They have agreed to cooperate in accordance with the state COVID-19 health protocol. There will be no public Eid gahs (gatherings in open spaces for prayers), but it will be held with participation of a maximum of 100 people indoors in mosques which are now open. Those mosques which are closed, will remain closed," he said.
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