Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday announced further relaxations in COVID-19 lockdown regulations in the state while cautioning the public against a possible third wave of the pandemic.
The new relaxations would come into effect from Thursday, June 24.
As per the new guidelines, banks will now be allowed to function on Tuesdays and Thursdays also but the public will not have access to the bank branches. All Government institutions and banks in Category A and B areas will be allowed to operate with up to 50 per cent of employees and all government institutions in Category C with up to 25 per cent staff.
Places of worship can open subject to a maximum of 15 persons at a time. However, liquor shops in local bodies bordering Tamil Nadu will remain closed because of the lockdown in Tamil Nadu.
While briefing the media after a COVID review meeting, the Chief Minister said, "The spread of the disease in the state is on the decline. The average test positivity rate (TPR) for the last three days is 10.2 per cent. Thrissur district has the highest TPR of 12.6 per cent while Kannur district has the lowest at 7.8 per cent. Apart from Kannur, the TPR in Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Thiruvananthapuram districts is less than 10 per cent. The remaining seven districts have a TPR between 10 and 12.6 per cent."
He further said that although the spread has decreased, the pace of that decline is not as expected.
"As compared to last week, the TPR remained unchanged in 605 local bodies. While it improved in 319, the situation worsened in 91. The TPR should go below 5 per cent to reach a comfortable level. Strict caution must continue and people should cooperate to avoid another lockdown. Further concessions the lockdown can be made if we proceed with caution," Chief Minister said.
At present, there are 277 local bodies in Kerala with an average test positivity rate of less than 8 per cent in the last seven days (A Category), 575 between 8 and 16 per cent TPR (B Category), 171 in the 16 to 24 per cent TPR range (C Category) and 11 LSG bodies with over 24 per cent TPR (D Category).
The relaxations in lockdown restrictions are being allowed in the A & B Category local bodies. Full lockdown will continue to be enforced on weekends across the State.
Classes for medical students will start on July 1 as they have been vaccinated. The 18 to 23-year-olds will be treated as a special category for vaccination. This would enable the opening up of regular colleges for them.
As many as 12,617 new COVID-19 were reported in Kerala in the last 24 hours, out of 1,17,720 tested samples. 141 deaths were also confirmed, taking the death toll to 12,295.
Presently, there are 1,00,437 active cases in Kerala.
The Chief Minister further informed that efforts are being made to detect and study the genetic variation of the Coronavirus through continuous genetic sequencing. The study is led by the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Biotechnology and Kozhikode Medical College. In addition, the Institute of Genomics and Integrated Biology is conducting studies into this.
He also announced that Kerala State Pravasi Welfare Development Co-operative Society in collaboration with HLL LifeCare Limited is all set to launch Covid 19 Molecular Testing Laboratory at all the four airports in the state to facilitate the travel of expatriates.