COVID-19 surge: Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya to reach Kerala on Monday

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Amid concerns of a high number of COVID cases being reported in Kerala everyday, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will reach the state on Monday to review the situation. He will meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Health Minister Veena George and chief secretary VP Joy.

The Union minister will be accompanied by National Centre for Disease Control director Dr SK Singh, who had led the central delegations to review the pandemic situation in the state on several occasions, and health secretary Rajeev Bhushan.

The visit comes at a time the state has been witnessing high number of daily cases and health experts raising concerns of a further surge in view of the Onam festival and holidays. 

On Sunday, Kerala accounted for more than half of the total Covid cases reported in the country – 18,582 new cases with a TPR of 15.11 per cent. While several health experts have hailed the ‘Kerala Model’ of COVID management, the central delegation that reviewed the situation was critical of the testing, tracing and home quarantine strategies adopted here and breakthrough infections.

The Union health minister had flagged the concerns raised in the report to the chief minister in the first week of August. The Monday’s meeting is likely to touch upon the central team’s findings.

“The health department has prepared a report of the measures taken by the state in controlling the situation and the preparations being made for dealing with a possible third wave. The state will be pressing for more vaccine doses from the Centre,” said an officer.

He said the aid announced by Centre to states for tackling the third wave will be part of the discussion. “Unlike his predecessor Harsh Vardhan who was open in his admiration for the Kerala’s handling of COVID, Mandaviya has been critical. It is reflected in the recent report of Central delegation dispatched by the minister,” said a public health expert.

The Covid review meeting chaired by the CM on Friday had sought to address some of the criticisms raised in the central report. Minister Veena George had also reacted cautiously to Mandaviya’s visit. She said on Saturday that hospitals and ICU occupancy are comparatively less even though cases remain high.

Mandaviya will visit the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital, which has been a major Covid hospital in the state, and review the functioning of HLL Lifecare Ltd, a Centre-owned healthcare product corporation in Thiruvananthapuram. He will leave for Assam on August 17.

The Central delegation which visited eight districts in the state two weeks ago found that the spread increased because comprehensive contact tracing of positive persons was very low. It recommended stringent containment measures. The report was critical of the classification of local bodies based on TPR.

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