Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday came down heavily on the Kerala government as the daily number of cases in the coastal state nearly doubled amid Onam festivities.
During the sixth episode of Sunday Samvaad, the Health Minister said that there were only 499 cases and two deaths in the state between January 30 and May 3, gains that have come undone now. He said that Kerala was paying the price of gross negligence during Onam due to an increase in inter and intrastate travel.
"Epicurve of Kerala changed completely due to Onam festivities across the State, the daily new cases nearly doubled," he said, warning that this was a lesson to all state governments that were being negligent in managing the festival season.
The Sabarimala temple was opened with certain restrictions to devotees on October 16 after seven months. Ther state government made it mandatory to carry a Covid-19 negative certificate while visiting the temple. Only 250 people are being allowed to visit the temple a day.
At present, the state has 3,17,929 total cases and about one lakh active cases. Kerala’s positivity rate is about 13 percent, which could be called the second worst in the country after Maharashtra. Kerala’s fatality rate is 0.35 percent lesser than the national average of 1.5%.
The Health Minister also refuted China's claims that the origin of the novel coronavirus could have been any other place in the world than Wuhan. "There is no evidence to validate the claims that the outbreak occurred at multiple points globally," he said, adding that Wuhan remains recognised as the site where the first coronavirus case was reported.
On Friday, China claimed that the coronavirus pandemic broke out in various parts of the world last year but the country was the only one to have reported and acted first.
Vardhan also clarified that there was no mutation of the virus in India, which was being studied by the Indian Council of Medical Research. The lack of mutation of the virus in the country is reassuring as vaccines will be effective once developed.
The Prime Minister's Office had also stated the same on Saturday, "Two studies on the genome of the coronavirus in India conducted by the country's top clinical research body and the Department of Bio-Technology suggest that the Covid-19 virus is genetically stable and has shown no major mutation."
On questions of under reporting of deaths in India and the country's fatality rate, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has taken up the issue of correct certification of Covid-19 deaths with all states and UTs on multiple instances. The Centre has also shared a proper modality of reporting of deaths with them to ensure consistency in reporting of Covid-19 related deaths across India, he said.