Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has warned of the state’s Covid situation turning grave and indicated the possibility of strict restrictions being re-imposed.
Continuing the trend of increasing number of positive cases in the wake of people returning in large numbers, the state recorded 24 cases on Wednesday.
Of the new 24 cases, 12 were people who have come from overseas and 11 from other states. One person contracted the disease through contact with affected persons. Of those coming from other states, eight were from Maharashtra and three from Tamil Nadu.
The state has been fearing a big jump in the number of new cases as the influx of Malayalees stranded in various countries and states picked up steam. An average of six evacuation flights land in the state on a daily basis, bringing in a steady stream of people from highly infected countries.
Every flight has been found to bring persons with symptoms, despite the fact that passengers are allowed to board only after thermal screening.
The chief minister cautioned people against intolerance towards people coming from outside due to the higher risk they carry and said that they deserved all the support. NRIs have been the backbone of the state’s economy, which survives on the basis of remittances.
The state authorities have threatened action against cases in which members of the public show intolerance towards the evacuees. There have been cases of people in the neighbourhood of quarantine centres holding demonstrations against such accommodations being provided in their neighbourhood.
The state’s situation is also turning tricky on account of the forthcoming monsoon season, which according to several forecasts, is set to receive excess rainfall, raising the risk of flooding. Some forecasts have spoken about the possibility of the 2018 deluge, which devastated the state.
The state’s dams are already filling fast due to heavier than normal summer rains this year and also due to the influence of cyclonic conditions in the Bay of Bengal. Worsening Covid situation would pose a twin challenge to the authorities as rescue and relief operations will have to be conducted in accordance with the virus protocols.
The opposition parties have already raised a storm over what they allege as the lack of preparedness on the part of the state government to meet the flood threat. Many of the schemes to clean up the river beds and remove obstructions in water discharge are held up due to lack of funds or mismatched priorities.