Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said that the presence of deadly Covid-19 mutant strains of the United Kingdom and South Africa are confirmed in the state.
Talking to media persons in the state capital, Vijayan said preliminary studies have found that mutant strains fanned the second wave in the state. “Among the new patients, at least 40% are infected with the mutated variants. Of these 30% are UK variant and 7% with double mutants and 2% with South African variant,” he said. He said experts would divulge more on this issue in the coming days.
“Detection of UK and African variants calls for stricter restrictions. The situation is really critical. We don’t want to create panic but people will have to be extra vigilant. We are going through a bad phase. Now experts have advised people to wear double masks in public places to avoid fast infection,” he said.
The CM said vigil has been stepped up in areas where mutant strains were reported.
Last week the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in Thiruvananthapuram had done an extensive study on the spike protein of the virus with the help of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in Delhi. Going by the rapid spread and nature of the second wave, experts have earlier warned about presence of strong mutants.
Earlier in the day, the CM chaired an all-party meeting which decided not to enforce a complete lockdown but partial closure in weekends to be continued and restrictions in containment areas to be tightened.
The meeting has also decided not to hold victory processions or rallies on vote counting day on May 2_when assembly election results will be out. Almost all political parties have agreed that a complete lockdown will affect people who are already reeling under the impact of the pandemic.
“Mini lockdown will continue in the weekend for the time being. Shops and business establishments will be allowed to open till 7.30pm. Bars and malls will be shut. We will tighten measures in containment zones and effective policing will be there,” said the CM adding it is the duty of respective political parties to ensure that big victory rallies or processions don’t take place on the counting day.
As cases rise alarmingly the core committee on pandemic had earlier recommended two-week lockdown but the all-party meet felt that complete closure and curfew will impact people badly and it will affect their livelihood.
Kerala on Monday reported 21,890 new cases with a high positivity rate of 22.71%.
In terms of daily caseload, Kerala is on the third spot with 21, 890 cases and active cases have also risen to 2,31,812. Out of 96,378 people tested, 21,980 were tested positive, according to the data released by the state health ministry. The state has also reported 28 fatalities taking the toll to 5,138. Among the infected are 70 health workers.