As Kerala eases pandemic regulations, Health Minister cautions against dropping guard

COVID-19 restrictions became less restrictive in large swathes of Kerala from Thursday.

Nevertheless, Health Minister Veena George cautioned people against dropping guard. She told news reporters that the second wave had not abated. The number of new cases had dwindled from 43,000 in May to less than 10,000 in July.

However, the average test positivity rate (TPR) appeared to have plateaued. It remained unrelentingly high at 10 per cent and above.

Ms. George said the increasing number of “home clusters” were worrying. The government has asked Local Self Government Institutions (LSGI) ward level committees to persuade people in homes without adequate space to quarantine to shift to first-line treatment centres. She also warned against social gatherings at home.

The spectre of a third wave driven by virulent variants of the coronavirus loomed. “The ease of COVID-19 regulations should not lull us into a sense of false security or induce complacency”, Ms. Veena said.

Inter-State bus services

In a sign of life limping back to normalcy, Transport Minister Antony Raju has informed his counterpart in Karnataka that the KSRTC was ready to start inter-State services from July 12. Initial operations would commence from Kozhikode and Kasargode, depending on passenger reservations.

The coaches would operate with half the prescribed seating capacity and adhere to the COVID-19 protocol. Tamil Nadu government was yet to allow inter-State travel given the worrying pandemic situation in the neighbouring State.

The government had on July 6 amended the average test positivity rate (TPR) based delineation of COVID-19 pandemic zones.

The government has grouped localities with an above 15% TPR spread in the highly restrictive “D-Zone”. It had grouped localities with less than 5% TPR as “Zone-A”. Localities where the TPR rate is between 5% and 10% will fall under “Zone-B” and between 10% and 15% under “Zone-C”. Triple lockdown restrictions will remain in place in D-Zone and semi-lockdown in C-Zone.

In A and B zones, hotels and restaurants can serve food as home deliveries or takeaways till 9.30 p.m. Physically distanced indoor sports, such as certain racquet games, are allowed. Gymnasiums can admit members. Government offices could function with total attendance. Tourism centres in A and B zones can open for business. However, they should permit only fully vaccinated persons.

The ban on social gatherings, night curfew and indoor dining remained. The State would lockdown entirely on weekends.

As of July 6, eighty-two LSGIs fell under Zone-A, 415 in Zone-B, 362 in Zone-C and 175 in Zone-D. Triple lockdown conditions prevail in most Zone-D localities.

The government would review the pandemic situation on July 13.

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