Kerala had its best day yet in its fight against coronavirus when three districts were declared completely Covid-free and for two consecutive days no new case was reported from anywhere.
The day also saw 61 patients or those under quarantine getting discharged or released from observation. There are only 34 more patients receiving treatment for the disease. The state still has over 21,000 people under observation, but most are in isolation at their homes. Only 372 people are under observation in hospitals.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who announced the statistics at his daily briefing, claimed the state has achieved significant success in containing the virus’s spread. The risk of community infection has been a lingering fear, but the latest numbers show as things stand today there is no such danger.
Over 1.64 lakh of Keralites stranded in other states have registered for passes to come back to the state, but there is a lot of uncertainty about their travel as interstate movement of people remains largely banned. The state government has asked the Centre to provide special trains for these people to come back, but so far there has been no word on it.
Over 500 people from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka returned on Monday, but they have all come in private vehicles or taxis. But for people staying in distant states, this is not an option. The government feels perhaps 20% of people may be in a position to organise their own transport.
That is why it is seeking the help of the Centre to run special long-distance trains. The state government has taken the stand those desirous of coming back to meet the cost of travel and the state government is not in a position to foot the bill.
When special trains were organised for migrant labourers from north Indian states to go back, the cost was borne by the workers. The state government only provided subsistence allowance and food when they were without job during the lockdown.
The issue has become controversial, with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asking state PCC units to foot the bill for the travel of those returning to their respective states, but Vijayan ridiculed the idea, saying, “We have past experience of how such promises worked on the ground.”