COVID spread declining but not completely satisfactory: CM

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(EDS: RPT after replacing word in headline, para-1) Thiruvananthapuram, May 26 (PTI) Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said the COVID-19 spread in the State is declining but asked the people to exercise caution as the situation is still not completely satisfactory.

As many as 28,798 new cases of COVID-19 were detected today from 1,44,372 sample tests in the last 24 hours with a test positivity rate of 19.95 per cent.

This is the first time the test positivity rate is falling below 20 per cent in more than a month, Vijayan told reporters here.

He said the review meeting held today observed that the COVID spread is declining but the situation is still not completely satisfactory.

He said the fact that the number of patient recoveries is more than the number of people infected is a matter of relief, and shows compliance with the lockdown norms.

'But we need to exercise caution. However, there has been no decline in the number of people being treated in hospitals. The demand for ICU beds, ventilators will continue for some more time and it is imperative that there is no rush in hospitals to avoid loss of lives,' the Chief Minister said.

Meanwhile, 151 deaths were also confirmed today as caused by COVID and the related death toll in the State is now 7,882.

'At present, there are 2,48,526 active cases even as 35,525 patients have recovered from the disease today.

Malappuram district still has the highest number of 4,751 new positive cases for the day,' he said.

Vijayan said the employees of Civil Supplies Department, Legal Metrology, Government Press, Textbook Printing and Passport Office would also be included in the vaccine priority list.

The Chief Minister also informed that a special team of the Special Branch has started inspections in all the districts to check the sale of COVID prevention items at a price higher than that set by the government.

The police have been instructed to take legal action including the closure of establishments found indulging in such practices.

The team would also check the sale of substandard pulse oximeters.

'Accurate understanding of the oxygen level in the body is essential for the safety of Covid patients. Incorrect information provided by poor quality pulse oximeters can endanger the patient. Therefore, people should buy only from the companies shortlisted by the Medical Service Corporation which would check the quality of the pulse oximeters. The government will soon make the list available to the public,' he said.

The government also decided to ensure 50 per cent attendance in the Secretariat from May 31.

Talking to reporters, the Chief Minister said the delays in processing files still exist in the State and directed the top officials to take steps to avoid them.

Vijayan gave assurance to the officials that no one should have unnecessary fear and anxiety when decisions are made honestly.

'The government will provide full protection to the honest officials,' he said.

Vijayan said there should be no delay in the disbursement of the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund.

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