The situation continues to be bad in the capital district of Thiruvananthapuram, which has been the worst affected in recent months.

Health worker in blue PPE kit and mask takes sample of a woman through a plastic shield separating them
news Press Meet Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 21:18

Nearly eight months after the first three cases of COVID-19 were reported in Kerala – which were also the first three in the country – the state has for the first time recorded over 5,000 fresh cases on Wednesday. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that 5,376 new cases and 20 deaths were reported on September 23, as opposed to the 4,000 plus cases in the past few days. There are now 42,786 active cases of COVID-19.

“It is worrying. Among the infected are children below 10 years and elderly above 60. The number of cases whose sources of infection are unknown is also increasing. There are 640 such cases today. The situation also continues to be bad in the capital district of Thiruvananthapuram, which has been the worst affected in recent months. Among the new cases, 852 are in Thiruvananthapuram,” CM Pinarayi said.

It was decided in August that asymptomatic patients could undergo home isolation in light of the increased number of cases exhausting hospital resources. But there was certain reluctance for this, the CM noted, due to unnecessary fear and misunderstanding about the disease. “If you follow the instructions of the health department properly, there is no need to worry. Home isolation would ensure that a patient’s mental pressure is kept low and that hospital resources can be used for more serious cases,” he said.

Read: How home quarantine is helping Kerala cope with increasing COVID-19 cases

Facilities in various hospitals have been increased with more beds and ICUs while new First Line Treatment Centres (FLTCs) for the treatment of patients with mild symptoms and pregnant women with COVID-19 have been added. A few FLTCs in Pathanamthitta have also been upgraded into Second Line Treatment Centres, the CM said.

Noting the increased cases and contact spread in various districts, CM Pinarayi cautioned the political leaders against protesting without following COVID-19 protocol. “Since September 11 there have been many protests across the state by different political leaders and several people who took part in these have got the disease. As of now we only know of a few cases – four in Kollam, four in Thiruvananthapuram, two in Thrissur, one each in Kozhikode and Alappuzha. But there’d be more. Consider the number of people they would have spread the disease to.”

Not a UDF-LDF problem

This is not a UDF-LDF problem, but a problem of the land, the CM said. The United Democratic Front (UDF) led by Congress forms the main Opposition while the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government rules the state.

“This is not a time for obstinacy. The disease is spreading and the cases are increasing. We should not do anything to further spread the infection. Political leaders in responsible positions should make people aware of that, not create an atmosphere of conflict without mask or distance. The police who have to control these protests cannot keep their distance right? Several police officials have as a result tested positive,” CM Pinarayi said.

E Sreedharan in charge of Palarivattom bridge reconstruction

Rebuilding work of the Palarivattom flyover, which had been found to be weak by an expert team, would soon begin, after the order sanctioning it was given by the Supreme Court. The government has been in talks with E Sreedharan, the man responsible for improving public transport in India, to take charge of the work, and he has agreed to do so. “He will take over the supervision. The work is expected to be complete in eight months,” said Pinarayi Vijayan.

Palarivattom bridge / Courtesy - Midhun J

The Supreme Court order to demolish and reconstruct the flyover came two days ago, after the High Court had earlier stayed the work. The bridge, which was constructed during the rule of the previous UDF government, had been deemed weak due to poor construction.

Read: SC allows Kerala govt to demolish and reconstruct Palarivattom flyover

Pinarayi Vijayan said that there was definite corruption and the culprits would be brought before the law.

Road development projects

The CM went on to list a slew of road development projects taken up by the government, including the tunnel path to connect Kozhikode and Wayanad. The present route through the Thamarassery Churam was dangerous since it trod through forest areas. Another project was the renovation of the MC Road connecting Alappuzha and Kottayam, as part of the Rebuild Kerala Initiative, following the floods of previous years. More than 600 crore rupees are being spent for both these projects.

He also mentioned work of the Alappuzha bypass, a Rs 225 crore project, which would be complete in November, and the construction of the Kundannoor-Vyttila overbridge to reduce the traffic congestion in Ernakulam. That would cost another 225 crore rupees.

Peruman Bridge behind the Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam and the building of 38 bridges by the Public Works Department in addition to the 28 others that will be over soon, were also listed by the CM among the development projects this year.

On Wednesday evening, a youth leadership academy was inaugurated, for experts to share their experience with the youth and bring opportunities to study at high level institutions. The first session was handled by veteran film artiste Kamal Haasan.

LIFE Mission

Earlier on Wednesday, the government ordered a preliminary probe by the Vigilance Department into the alleged misappropriation of funds in the LIFE project. On asked about the probe during the evening press meet, CM Pinarayi said that the Vigilance will check if there is violation of Prevention of Corruption Act. “This is a project that builds home for the homeless and the landless. We completed two lakh homes by February 2020. By the end of November, 50,000 more houses will be complete. The allegations being made against the LIFE Mission is an attempt to sabotage it,” he said.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said earlier on Wednesday that he was resigning from the LIFE Mission Task Force, unsatisfied with the declaration of a Vigilance probe and demanding an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

On questions about Chennithala’s long standing demand of a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding between Red Crescent, the UAE-based NGO and the government, in connection with the project, the CM said that the Opposition leader had wanted all proofs published. “He can always get the proof if he asks for it. The copy of MoU has been received by everyone who asked for it through Right To Information (RTI). But what he wanted was the publicising of the proofs. We can give him the proof if he asks for it,” the CM said.

Watch: Press meet of CM Pinarayi


Media Briefing

Media Briefing

Posted by Chief Minister's Office, Kerala on Wednesday, September 23, 2020


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