The UDF asked Kerala’s Health Minister whether COVID-19 wave had abated in the State.
Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) opposition walked out of the Assembly on Friday, accusing the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government of adopting a lackadaisical hands-off approach to COVID-19 management.
Seeking the leave of the House to introduce an adjournment motion to discuss the government’s "abandonment" of citizens mid-pandemic, Congress legislator P. C. Vishnunath asked Health Minister Veena George to state unambiguously whether the second COVID-19 wave in Kerala had abated.
The government had "suspiciously" kept the findings of the serosurvey secret for over a fortnight, he noted.
Each day, the State reported more than 12,000 new infections. "Daily 100 to 150 persons are dying from COVID in Kerala," he added.
The State’s test positivity rate (TPR) hovered at 13 per cent and showed no signs of dipping. Comparatively, the TPR was less than one per cent in other States, he said.
Increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Kerela
Sixty per cent of the total number of COVID-19 cases reported in India are from Kerala. As per a government estimate, almost 40 per cent of COVID-19 deaths in Kerala were due to "delay in getting patients to hospitals".
The statistic shows that the COVID-19 reporting had failed. "Where are the intervention mechanisms purportedly put in place by the government at the ward level to blunt the worst ravages of the pandemic?" Mr. Vishnunath asked.
The government has closed down most of its first-line treatment centres. "It has washed its hands off COVID-19 mitigation and (has) left the people to fend for themselves mid-crisis," he said.
Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan claimed that the actual COVID-19 death toll was far higher than what was officially reported.
The second wave is rapidly sliding into a potentially ruinous catastrophe, catching the Government sitting. Contact tracing has come to a halt, and small dwellings have become COVID-19 incubation centres. The government was not been keen on shifting COVID-19 patients to hospitals, he said.
COVID-19 mitigation in Kerela
Ms. George said the extremely virulent Delta variant driven COVID-19 second wave had hit Kerala in April and since then its intensity has lessened considerably.
In May, when the pandemic peaked in Kerala, daily new infections had touched 43,000. Kerala was particularly vulnerable to pestilence given its high number of citizens with chronic and severe co-morbidities such as diabetes, the population density, close-quarter living and a sizeable number of senior citizens.
However, no patient has died due to wanting medical care or supplementary oxygen in Kerala, Ms. George said.
“Kerala did not witness the bodies of the COVID-19 dead floating down rivers after cremation grounds and crematoriums filled up. Nobody died gasping for oxygen. The State fought off the worst of the pandemic", she said.
Kerala’s COVID-19 reporting was robust and flawless. Hence, the relatively high numbers compared to other States, she said.
Kerala had ramped up vaccination and extended free medical care to COVID-19 infected persons, irrespective of their income bracket or social background. The State has invested ₹400 crore in COVID-19 mitigation efforts. It won the respect of the nation for preventing deaths and keeping infections at bay, she said.
The Minister said the government would rectify anomalies, if any, in COVID-19 death reporting. No eligible family would lose out on the ex-gratia financial assistance to the kin of the COVID-19 dead.
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