CM disputes Oppn. charge on pandemic

‘Zero surveillance surveys reveals Kerala as the least infected State’

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday disputed the Opposition’s charge that Kerala’s COVID-19 management model had failed.

Not one person has died due to a lack of supplementary oxygen or medical attention in Kerala. Hospitals did not fill up with infected persons. Bodies of the COVID dead did not float around unattended in the rivers and lagoons. Pyres did not burn for weeks on end in Kerala, he said.

At least three back-to-back zero surveillance surveys had revealed that Kerala was the least infected State in the country. The pandemic death rate in the State was the lowest in the country (0.5%). Kerala’s vaccine wastage was zero.

The State has not undercounted COVID-19 deaths. Kerala’s testing rate was the highest in the country. “Which other model should Kerala chose?” he asked.

The Chief Minister made his counter argument in an article published in a Communist Party of India (Marxist) magazine on the occasion of the second Left Democratic Front (LDF) government completing 100 days in power.

An estimated 53% of the State’s population had not contracted COVID-19 due to strict adherence to pandemic regulations. Hence, the State could outpace the pandemic by ramping up vaccination of the vulnerable population. The onus was on the Centre to ensure an uninterrupted vaccine supply.

Mr. Vijayan said Kerala had faced unprecedented calamities since 2018. It suffered two catastrophic floods accompanied by mudslides and landslips. In 2020, the pandemic struck. However, the State’s relief and welfare measures had marched in lockstep with its development. “Welfare has not been at the cost of infrastructure development,” he said.

Mr. Vijayan laid out a roadmap for development in the article. It entailed big-ticket infrastructure projects such as semi-high speed railway connectivity, ring roads around the urban centre, affordable internet and telephone connectivity, reticulated cooking gas supply, piped drinking water and power for all, and transformation of Kerala into a knowledge economy.

The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had attacked the government for the increasing number of new infections, hospitalisations and pandemic deaths. The government’s COVID-19 talk was all bluster. The government had declared an early victory over the pandemic and failed to prepare for the worst. When the pandemic resurged, Mr. Vijayan slunk away from public view, the Opposition had alleged.

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