Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday, 31 August, announced that only RTPCR tests will be conducted in six districts of the state where COVID-19 vaccination has reached or is close to 80%. The districts include Waynad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Idukki and Kasaragod.
Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, and Ernakulam districts have completed 80% vaccination and Thiruvananthapuram, Idukki, and Kasaragod districts are close to vaccinating 80% of their residents. The decision was made at a COVID review meeting chaired by the chief minister where it was decided to increase the number of RTPCR tests in all districts. In light of the deteriorating COVID-19 situation, the Kerala government decided to conduct only RTPCR tests in the six districts.
Chief Minister Vijayan said, "When distributing vaccines to districts, adjustments should be made to provide more vaccines to the relatively low vaccination districts. The district authorities should also take care to allot vaccines to local self-government institutions proportionately".
Vijayan informed that special arrangements will be made at airports to screen visitors from countries where C.1.2 COVID variant has been identified. RTPCR tests will be made mandatory for people travelling from such countries and necessary steps will be taken to quarantine them.
Pinarayi Vijayan added, "Steps will be taken to collect information of COVID cases at ward level in gram panchayats. Once made available, the ward level lockdown will be implemented".
Explaining that the state currently has eight lakh doses of the coronavirus vaccine, which would be completely used soon, the Kerala chief minister said, "There is no shortage of syringes. The number of ICU beds and ventilators has been increased."
On 29 August, Kerala Health Minister Veena George had said that a revised COVID-19 testing strategy is being introduced in the state in the wake of 71% of the state's eligible population receiving at least the first dose of the vaccine.
Veena George had said, "Guidelines have also been issued based on the vaccination status in the districts. More people will be screened to know the exact extent of the spread of the disease in the community. The COVID spread will be assessed in all the districts based on sentinel and random samples. All the districts would take random samples to find out any new clusters of COVID outbreaks".
To date, Kerala has reported a total of 40.3 lakh COVID cases with 20,673 deaths. The state has administered a total of 29,092,472 COVID vaccine doses across 1,105 vaccination sites.