Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has warned of the state’s Covid situationturning grave and indicated the possibility of strict restrictions being reimposed. The state recorded 24 more cases on Wednesday, continuing a trend of increasing positive cases as people are returning in large numbers. Of the new 24 cases, 12 people 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 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 ina steady stream of people from highly infected countries. Every flight has been found to bring a few persons with symptoms, despite the fact that passengers are allowed to board only after thermal screening.
The CM cautioned people against intolerance towards people coming from outside due to the higher risk they carry and said they deserved all support. NRIs have been the backbone of the state’s economy, which survives on the basis of remittances. The authorities have threatened action against cases in which members of the public show intolerance towards the evacuees. There have been cases of people around the quarantine centresholding protests against such accommodations being provided intheirneighbourhood.
The state’s situation is also turning tricky on account of the forthcoming monsoon season, which according to several forecasts, will receive excess rainfall, raising the risk of flooding. Some forecasts have spoken about the possibility of the 2018 deluge, causinghuge devastation. The state’s dams are already filling fast due to heavier than normal summer rains this year and 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.