The Kerala government on Friday clarified that it had not imposed a second lockdown, instead it had imposed section 144 of CrPC in the state, prohibiting the assembly of more than five people.
The clarification came from Chief Secretary Viswas Mehta amid confusion over the government’s late Thursday night order.
Meanwhile, district collectors of Ernakulam, Kottayam, Thiruvananthapuram, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode have issued prohibitory orders with public transport systems and banks exempt from the restrictions, Manorama reported.
Kerala has seen record increases in its coronavirus cases recently, with active cases increasing by over 44,100 in the last two weeks.
Friday saw a new record with the state reporting 9,258 new cases.
From flattening the curve in May, the state began to witness a steady increase in its active cases from July, with frequent spikes record in the following months.
This week, the Kerala chapter of the Indian Medical Association asked chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to declare a ‘health emergency’ in the state to make the seriousness of the situation clear to the public. The IMA also asked the state to increase testing to one lakh a day to detect and isolate asymptomatic cases faster.
Dr RC Sreekumar, who heads the research cell at IMA, told Indian Express that the healthcare system was beginning to feel the strain of the increased caseload and said that “if the situation deteriorates further, we are heading for a calamity”.
The imposition of Section 144 means an assembly or gathering of more than five people at a time is not permitted anywhere in the state.
The order came into force from 9 am on October 3 and will remain in effect till October 31.
Existing relaxations for categories like weddings, funerals etc will continue. The number of people allowed at weddings and similar occasions is 50. The number of people allowed at funerals is 20.
The restrictions vary for containment zones in Thiruvananthapuram. (See details)
In seven districts, local body secretaries have been ordered to disinfect market areas, bus stands and other public places where people gather once a day. (See list of restrictions here)
District magistrates across the state have been directed to assess the ground situation in their districts and use the relevant provisions and orders under section 144, CrPC to control the spread of the disease.
“Strict restrictions shall be imposed in containment zones and in specific areas where the spread of the disease is apprehended,” the order said.
People commuting to their offices, businesses, and markets are exempted from the restrictions.
Indian Express’s report also pointed out several concerning statistics from the state.
Kerala is only behind Maharashtra and Karnataka in terms of its active cases, and also has the second highest second highest rate of increase.
The state’s recovery rate is at 65.39% compared to the national rate of 83.01%.
As of Thursday, its active cases counted for 35% of the total number of cases recorded so far which indicated the pressure on the healthcare system, in terms of hospital beds, ventilators and other resources.
The state’s test positivity rate as of September 30 was a whopping 13.86% when the recommended level of WHO and ICMR is below 5%.
The parameter in favour of the state is mortality rate at 0.38%. Kerala’s death toll at 791 is significantly lower than places like Delhi, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh, which have lower active cases.