More stringent curbs in Kerala from May 4 as daily surge

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crosses 38,000; Caseload touches 15 lakh mark Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 29 (PTI) The Kerala government on Thursday decided to impose more stringent curbs from May 4-9 with the state's daily surge of COVID-19 cases crossing 38,000 and virus caseload touching the 15 lakh mark.

With fresh cases increasing exponentially, there is need to strengthenfurther restrictions in addition to the present weekend lockdown like curbs on Saturdays and Sundays, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters.

For a weekfrom May 4, stringent restrictions will be put in place.People should follow 'self lockdown', Vijayan said.

Indoor and outdoor shooting of television serials and documentaries will not be allowed, vegeteable and fish market vendors should maintain two metre distance, wear double masks and gloves, he said.

Police personnel have assured that there will be no problems with regard to oxygen transportation and vehicles transporting the life saving gas cylinders, medicines and medical equipment should be marked clearly to help police identify them and ensure safe passage through traffic.

Dedicated Oxygen war rooms at the state and district levels will be set up, the chief ministersaid, adding collectors will monitor the availability of oxygen in their respective districts.

'Lockdown should be the last resort.But weare not able to control the spread of the virus. Though people are cooperating in many places, there are reports of covid guidelines being flouted from some areas',he said.

The Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) today urged the state government to impose two week lockdown in view of the rise in cases.

Only shops selling essential commodities would be allowed to function and they should encourage door delivery of goods to avoid contact with people, Vijayan said.

The Chief Minister also pointed that though banking hours were from 10 am to 2 pm due to the present situation, some branches were forcing the staff to work beyond these timings and asking them to do canvassing works.

The state will give priority to those who are eligible for the second dose of the vaccine.

'There is no need to rush to Covid vaccination centres for this.The second dose of Covishield vaccine should be taken within 6 to 8 weeks and Covaxin within 4 to 6 weeks.' A list of those eligible to receive the second dose of the vaccine at each vaccination centre will be available on the Cowin portal.

The slot for the first dose will be allowed for online booking only after giving preference to those taking the second dose, he said.

It is now estimated that vaccinating the vast majority of people over the age of 60 in the first phase of the Covid outbreak has helped reduce mortality in the State.

'We have been able to successfully implement early vaccination and this is the reason why the mortality rate is not rising proportionately despite the current rapid spread of the disease', he said.

A committee has been set up under the Home Secretary to monitor the availability of oxygen.

The oxygen module will be prepared and added to the Covid Jagratha portal.This will help in better utilisation as oxygen stock figures will be available in each district, he said.

As many as 4,607 cases were registered today for violating the Covid protocol. While cases were registered against 22,403 people for not wearing masks, 1,128 people were arrested and 129 vehicles seized, a police press release said.

Kerala's total caseload soared to 15,33,984 with the addition of 38,607 fresh cases today, while active cases stood at 2,84,086. PTI UD BN BALA BN BALA