While Covid-19 cases spiral, Kerala gets caught in a turf war it can’t afford

The Kerala government’s decision to hand over virus contact tracing and other related responsibilities to the police has angered state health officials and opposition parties alike even as the state reported 1083 new cases of coronavirus patients on Tuesday.

Earlier primary and secondary contact tracing of Covid-19 patients and marking of containment zones were done by health inspectors and grassroots health workers but now, the task has been handed over to police officers. The government took the decision after a big spurt in positive cases. While it took more than five months for the state to record the first 10,000 cases, the total number of infections galloped past the 27,000-mark in the last two weeks, forcing the government to strengthen virus control measures.

But the opposition parties, the Congress and the BJP, decried the move, saying the government was trying to impose a ‘police raj’ in the name of the pandemic. The Indian Medical Association Kerala chapter and the government medical officers association also criticized the decision. Later, the government made it clear that it was a joint fight against the common enemy and health officials were not slighted.

Kochi police commissioner Vijay Sakhre, who was made the state nodal officer, echoed the view saying all involved in the Coved 19 containment efforts will work together as a single team.

Meanwhile, the state reported 1083 cases on Tuesday taking the virus tally to 27,955. Out of this, 11,450 are active cases and 16,303 have recovered. With three more deaths registered in the past 24 hours, the death toll in the state has gone up to 89. The state capital of Thiruvananthapuram remained worst-affected with one-third of the active cases

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