Friday’s press conference by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan began on a sober note: 42 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported on a single day. That’s the most the state has seen on a single day since the first case was reported in January end. Friday is also the day the fifth COVID-19 death got reported in the state – of 73 year old Kadeeja Kutty, a Chavakkadu native who came from Mumbai.
The rise in the cases after the negligibly low numbers in early May came with the resumption of flights from other countries and after inter-state borders were opened up, bringing thousands of Malayalis home. More than 91,000 people have returned home so far, CM Pinarayi Vijayan said, and more will return in the coming days. “The doors will never be shut before a Keralite. We cannot act helpless because COVID-19 cases are increasing,” he repeated the stance taken by the government as questions were raised about it.
Half of the 42 new cases on Friday are of those that returned from Maharashtra. Another 17 came from foreign countries. Two people came from Tamil Nadu and Andhra. Of the two others, one person got it through contact and the other is a health worker, the CM noted.
There have been 733 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state so far, including five deaths. However the state still records the number of deaths as 4, not including the death of a person in Mahé. CM Pinarayi claimed that it is because the person, originally from Mahé, came to Kerala for treatment. The Centre has however said that the state where a person died, needs to take the death into its count.
The number of people under observation in the state is now 84,258, out of which 83,649 are in home or institutional quarantine. The others are in hospital. So far, 51,310 samples have been sent for testing and 49,535 of these have returned negative. The sentinel surveillance of priority groups is also progressing, with 7,072 tests so far returning 6,630 negative results.
Among the districts, Kannur and Malappuram have the most number of infected persons now with 36 each, Palakkad has 26 cases and Kasargod has 21. However, no new hotspots have been added, the CM said.
He cautioned people that relaxing the lockdown rules did not mean that it was time to go out and celebrate. “It has been done so that life could move on. But now it’s been observed that children and old people – who were advised to stay home – are going out. Reverse quarantine was instructed so that the elderly and the children and those with other diseases should be prevented from getting infected,” Pinarayi Vijayan said.
The Chief Minister also spoke of the progress of the Life mission, the government’s campaign to build houses for the homeless and landless. As many as 2,19,134 houses have been completed in the first two phases and 54,169 have been found to be deserving for the third phase.
He ended his talk with Ramzan which would be observed in a day or two. The CM made his wishes and observed that people would have to celebrate the festival at home.