Amid COVID-19 surge, Kerala extends lockdown till May 23

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 14 (PTI) The Kerala government on Friday announced that the total lockdown being enforced in the state from May 8 to May 16 will be extended till May 23 to contain the massive spread of COVID-19.

The decision to extend the lockdown was taken in view of high test positivity rates in districts, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

The state is currently under a 9-day complete shutdown as part of its efforts to bring down the daily caseload of infected persons.

Addressing a press conference here, Vijayan also announced 'triple lockdown' in four districts-- Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram--from May 16 to bring down the rising number of cases.

Such strong measures will help contain the massive spread of virus in these districts, he said.

Vijayan said it will take some more days to know about the positive impact of the lockdown measures in checking the spread of coronavirus.

'Experts have said the month of May is very crucial for Kerala.Lockdown measures have helped the north Indian states to containsecond wave of COVID-19.That is a good sign,' Vijayan said.

At present the South Indian states, including Kerala, are witnessing a massive spread of virus.After May, these states may face a situation as being witnessed in the north Indian states, he said.

'If utmost care is taken in the month of May, we will be able to bring down the death rate. To ease the burden on people due to the lockdown measures, the government has adopted certain measures including the distribution of foodkits and timely distribution of social security pension,' the chief minister said.

The distribution of social security pension for May will be completed very soon. A total of Rs 823.23 crore has been allocated for pension distribution, Vijayan said.

The chief minister said the free distribution of foodkits for 85 lakh families in the state will be continued in the month of June also.

Kerala on Friday logged 34,694 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the overall tally to 20,55,528. PTI TGB BN BALA BN BALA

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