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Harsh Vardhan's comments should not be taken as criticism of Kerala's COVID-19 management: CM Pinarayi Vijayan

With Kerala witnessing a spurt in infections recently, Harsh Vardhan said the state was "paying the price for gross negligence” during Onam festivities when unlocking of services along with an increase in travel for trade and tourism led to the spread of COVID-19.

October 20, 2020 / 07:57 AM IST

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan’s recent comments on rising coronavirus cases in Kerala should not be taken as a criticism of the state government’s COVID-19 management.

With Kerala witnessing a spurt in infections recently, Vardhan said the state was "paying the price for gross negligence” during Onam festivities when unlocking of services along with an increase in travel for trade and tourism led to the spread of COVID-19.

However, Vijayan blamed an "irresponsible opposition" for the rising cases.

"The recent comments by the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Harsh Vardhan should not be taken as a criticism of the efforts of the state in COVID management,” Vijayan said.

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The chief minister said the COVID-19 situation in the state was under control during and after the Onam festive season as a strict vigil was enforced.

"Our COVID preventive measures were a success but the massive protests across the state by an irresponsible opposition derailed the efforts of the government,” Vijayan said.

He said Kerala was the first place in the country to develop a COVID-19 protocol while social distancing and public awareness campaigns were started in the state before anywhere else.

He added that Kerala was first in the country to implement a statewide lockdown.

"The state was successful in containing the number of deaths due to COVID-19. The government’s efforts were to delay the outbreak of the pandemic from peaking and it used the time gained in the process to strengthen the medical and health infrastructure facilities,” Vijayan said.

He said the COVID-19-related death rate in Kerala was low as the government had applied a scientific approach towards reducing mortality among coronavirus patients.

From a 0.77 percent mortality rate in May, the decline was gradual as it came down to 0.28 percent in October (till date), the chief minister said, adding that, it is a proud achievement that the state government was able to bring down the mortality rate even at this stage when the numbers of new cases were high.

"This is the reason why our health sector has got several accolades at an international level,” Vijayan said.

Kerala on Monday recorded 5,022 new COVID-19 cases, including 59 health workers, pushing the infection count so far to 3,33,881 while the toll mounted to 1,182 with 21 fatalities.

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