On Saturday, Kerala Health Minister Veena George asked Hindus to avoid crowds, events, celebrations and visits to relatives and friends ahead of Onam, citing Covid-19. This comes just days after having lockdown relaxations for celebrations of Eid-al-Adha (Bakrid). The Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government has now asked people to strictly avoid crowds and follow Covid-19 protocols while organising, attending events and celebrations.
Health Minister Veena George said people should avoid visiting relatives and family, especially if there are small children in the family. The latest diktat comes at a time when Kerala is constantly recording over 20,000 fresh cases for over five days in a row. The recent surge in the Covid-19 cases is attributed to the recent opening up of the state during the Bakrid celebrations, resulting in a massive spike in infections in the state.
Health Minister Veena George has also warned people against being complacent and admitted that the state is yet to tackle the pandemic. She asked people to remain extra vigilant in order to prevent a third wave.
Kerala opens up for Eid, closes for Onam
Strangely, the latest orders from the Kerala Health Minister comes just ahead of the Hindu festival of Onam. Despite raging infections in Kerala and the state government’s inability to manage the pandemic, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government had given in to the pressure and had lifted lockdown restrictions for three days to celebrate Bakrid or Eid-ul-Adha from July 18 to July 21.
The Kerala government had announced relaxations for the Bakrid festival in a press conference organised on July 17. This despite the fact that Kerala was recording the highest new COVID cases even at that time. The Supreme Court, too, that had taken suo moto cognisance over Kanwar Yatra and other celebrations, did not take a tough stand on Kerala government easing relaxations for Eid.
Due to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions during Barkid celebrations, Kerala has become the Covid-19 epicentre in the country as fresh infections have soared since the last two weeks, hitting a peak last week. As restrictions were removed ahead of the Eid celebrations, Kerala has recorded the highest number of fresh cases surpassing the two-month average.
For the fifth consecutive day, Kerala has recorded more than 20,000 fresh Covid-19 cases on Saturday. Though it saw a decline in fall in the Test Positivity Rate to 12.31 per cent, the number of deaths in the state is still a matter of concern. Moreover, the Eid events in Kerala have now become the superspreader events in the state, risking not just Kerala but also in its neighbouring states such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
On Saturday, Kerala logged 20,624 fresh cases, pushing the infection caseload to 33,90,761, while 80 more deaths took the toll to 16,781.
The Kerala government, which failed to impose any restrictions ahead of the Eid celebrations or aftermath of the festival, resulting in a fresh wave of the pandemic, now seems to be in a hurry to restrict Hindus from celebrating the auspicious festival of Onam.