Kerala plans to treat four districts in the state as one high-risk zone where lockdown restrictions will be strictly implemented, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday.
The Centre’s list of hotspots in Kerala, released on Wednesday, had included six districts — Kasargod, Kannur, Malappuram, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram and Pathanamthitta.
The state said it would instead prefer to treat Kasargode, Kannur, Malappuram and Kozhikode districts as one zone since these adjoining districts currently have the highest number of cases in Kerala, Pinarayi said.
Kasargode has 61 patients, Kannur 45 and there are nine each in Malappuram and Kozhikode.
Manorama News’s TV reports said that the Centre’s demarcation of hotspots in the state seemed to be based on an older list of cases in the state.
A senior health ministry official told the Hindustan Times, “It seems the classification has been done without realising the ground situation. Some of the districts which have done a stupendous job by containing the virus are again in the hotspot list.”
In his daily press conference, Pinarayi said it will approach the Centre with a rectification and get its approval for this demarcation. Pinarayi said the lockdown would need to continue in these districts without any reprieve till May 3. The state will mark exit and entry points for hotspots in these districts.
In the next category, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kollam districts will be allowed a partial lifting of restrictions on April 24, if the situation in these areas is favourable. Hotspots within these districts will be sealed.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad, public life will be partially allowed to return to normal from April 24. But the lockdown guidelines will remain applicable here, including those on travel and public gatherings. Hotspots will be sealed. Stores and restaurants will be allowed to open till 7 pm.
In Idukki and Kottayam districts, restrictions will be completed lifted from April 24 and normal life will be allowed to resume. However, inter-district will remained banned. Theatres, malls and places of worship will remain shut.
The Union health ministry had on Wednesday asked states to classify districts into hotspots, non-hotspots and green zones.
Districts witnessing high number of cases or high growth rate of infections were to be marked as hotspots; districts where some cases have been found were to be non-hotspots; and those which have reported no cases were to be marked green zones.
Red zone districts are the highest case load districts contributing to more than 80% of cases in the country or highest case load districts contributing to more than 80% of cases in each state.
The chief minister said the state had reported seven Covid-19 positive cases on Thursday— four in Kannur, two in Kozhikode and one in Kasargode.
On Wednesday, Kerala reported only one person coronavirus positive patient, the lowest in recent weeks.
Vijayan had said: “In our country, the recovery rate is the highest in Kerala and 218 patients have been completely cured of the disease.There is good progress in testing and we are doing increased numbers now. But we cannot afford to give more exemptions and relaxations in the lockdown conditions.”
(This article has been updated throughout with details from the press conference)