Amid surging Coronavirus cases in the country, Republic TV on Wednesday spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has been appreciated for tackling the pandemic. Calling his state to be at the 'forefront' of India's fight against the deadly virus, CM Vijayan explained how Kerala had set up strategies as early as in January. He spoke about Tablighi Jamaat Nizamuddin Markaz attendees, Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance 2020 and the lockdown. He stated that there is no community transmission of the disease in Kerala so far and that his government will soon begin mass-testing.
Speaking to Republic TV, CM Kerala said that the state has been alert about COVID-19 since the beginning. Explaining how the process went, he said: "On January 24th, a control room was set up in the directorate of health services, on January 25th, clear guidelines were issued to health officials and local governments on the measures to be adopted. By January 28, control rooms were set up in the districts as well. It was after all these initial preparations that 1st COVID 19 case was confirmed in India from Kerala by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on January 30th. Since then we have been quarantining people with a travel history and testing those symptoms. We have been able to pin-point positive cases thus far."
#LIVE | '1,65,556 beds prepared, additional facilities including ventilators also readied. Special action plan has been put in place in districts where outbreak has been higher. Next week, specific Covid hospital will be readied: Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan https://t.co/RZHKU3wOei pic.twitter.com/4sFeLvNUU7— Republic (@republic) April 8, 2020
"We are moving towards conducting mass testing as prescribed by WHO to ascertain the spread of the virus. 80% positive cases that have been reported are those who have international travel history. Remaining are those who have maintained close contact with such people. There is no threat of community transmission in Kerala based on information so far. We are ready to meet any eventuality," Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan added.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan said: "Our pravasi brothers and sisters have made Kerala what it is today. Through Loka Kerala Sabha, we are providing assistance to our migrants to overcome such difficult times. Also, the NORKA department is in touch with Keralites around the globe, the issues that come up are being taken to respective govt so that relief measures can be taken. We have assured all our Pravasi that their families are taken care of, Malayali diaspora is all over the world, they are immensely contributing to the welfare of the respective countries they are in, among them the healthcare persons - doctors, nurses and those in close contact with patients deserve special mention." He added that everyone is proud of them.
Kerala CM Vijayan also said that the efforts of the state have been appreciated by the Centre and that his state became a model for other state's fight against Coronavirus. "We have been vigilant since the beginning. It needs to be noted the cabinet secretary appreciated the efforts of the Kerala health department. The fact that Kerala announced relief package before anybody else, and that Kerala announced lockdown before anybody else, brings it in the forefront of India's fight against COVID."
"All those who attended the event from Kerala have been identified and placed under quarantine. We have been closely observing all of them even before it came to limelight. We have repeated that stigma or prejudice associated with the disease will only be a roadblock in successfully overcoming the challenge before us.
At the same time, communal targets targeting a specific community in the wake of this incident cannot be allowed. The virus knows no religion, does not differentiate on the basis of it, can affect any of us," CM Pinarayi Vijayan stated.
On March 28, Kerala promulgated the Epidemic Diseases Ordinance 2020 “to unify and consolidate laws relating to the regulation and prevention of epidemic diseases”.The ordinance gives the state government several extraordinary powers to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, including restrictions on essential services and the introduction of a two-year imprisonment penalty.
Speaking about the Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, he said: "In Kerala, the government machinery is used to provide relief to the people in this time of distress and to enable that we have promulgated this. So that govt can proactively intervene as the situation demands during this epidemic, staying true to India's federal framework, it is up to all states to decide what would work best for them."
Speaking about the 21-day lockdown, he said: "We appeal to Keralites around the world to adhere to the instruction been issued to the respective governments and to follow the guidelines issued by WHO. We need to be socially united, extend solidarity as and when required, even while keeping a physical distance. Over the last few years, Kerala has become a role model for the world."
On Tuesday evening, CM Vijayan said that nine more have tested positive for coronavirus in the state, taking the total toll to 327, while 12 individuals have recovered. There have been 2 deaths in the state. Among the new cases, four cases have been reported from Kasargod, 3 from Kannur, 1 each from Kollam and Malappuram.
The CM also said that among the new cases are four people who had returned from abroad, two attendees of Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi and three persons were affected by contact. 1,46,686 individuals are currently under observation -- 752 of them in hospitals and the rest in homes. Meanwhile, the total number of active COVID-19 cases in India has climbed to 4643, as per the data provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.