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Harsh Vardhan’s remarks on Kerala COVID-19 spike triggers controversy

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SMITHA N
Published Oct 19, 2020, 6:14 pm IST
Updated Oct 19, 2020, 6:14 pm IST
K.K Shailaja says that, he has not criticised the COVID-19 control strategy of Kerala while responding to Dr. Vardhan’s remarks
Medical staff members wear masks and protective suits to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, outside the special isolation ward of District Hospital Aluva in Kochi. (PTI Photo)
 Medical staff members wear masks and protective suits to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, outside the special isolation ward of District Hospital Aluva in Kochi. (PTI Photo)

Union minister of health Dr. Harsh Vardhan’s remarks on the big spurt in COVID-19 cases in Kerala have triggered a controversy. During a social media interactive programme ‘Sunday Samvaad’, Dr. Vardhan opined that “Kerala is paying the price for gross negligence during the recent Onam festival days which made the state worse from best”. Kerala’s number of daily cases has nearly doubled after the Onam festival season, he said.  Responding to Dr. Vardhan’s remarks, the state health minister K.K Shailaja said that he has not criticised the COVID-19 control strategy of Kerala. “Few media reported that Union minister has strongly criticised Kerala’s pandemic control measures. But, the reports are baseless. He has pointed out the lapses happened during the Onam days which the state government had already indicated. I called up Dr. Vardhan and he has made it clear that he never intended to say anything against Kerala’s pandemic control measures. During the Sunday Samvaad when questions were asked about the reason for the sudden surge in the number of fresh cases in Kerala, he pointed out the negligence happened during Onam days. It is a fact that lapses in maintaining social distancing and other health protocols during the festival days resulted in big surge in new cases. Dr. Vardhan said that other states need to take this as a lesson from Kerala as Dusserah and Diwali festival season is to begin in most of the states. The minister pointed out this to avoid mass gatherings,” said K.K Shailaja during a Facebook Live video.  “Even from the initial phase of the pandemic, Dr. Vardhan has been complimenting the Kerala government’s scientific COVID-19 control strategy and he always supported the state’s initiatives, despite the political differences”.  “However, despite the spiralling cases, Kerala could rein in the case fatality rate. The state is able to maintain the least mortality rate when compared to the national average and other states. The case fatality rate in the state till October is 0.34 per cent. Limiting the mortality rate is the success of pandemic control measures,” added the health minister.  Meanwhile, the Opposition in Kerala has come up with strong criticism against the LDF government over the Union minister’s remarks. “Dr. Vardhan’s assessment on failure in COVID-19 management in Kerala is correct. The state government has totally failed in controlling the virus transmission,” alleged Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.  Union minister of state V. Muraleedharan said that Dr. Vardhan’s comments are serious in nature and serious lapses happened in conducting COVID-19 tests and enforcing pandemic protocols. “The home quarantine system in Kerala is a total failure. The state government has turned down the Centre’s instruction for institutional quarantine for all those coming from overseas,” he alleged.  The state has so far reported 3, 41, 859 cases with 95200 active cases. The total number of deaths is 1161.

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