COVID-19 control activities an utter failure: Satheesan

‘Govt. keeping valuable health data under wraps’

The COVID-19 control activities in the State are a total failure, Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan has said.

He accused the government of data secrecy, even when the cumulative cases have crossed 38 lakhs. The government’s attempt to keep valuable health data relating to COVID under wraps was affecting the control strategies for combating the third wave.

The failure to share the data and analyse it appropriately had seriously affected research activities too, Mr. Satheesan said while addressing media persons here on Wednesday.

He said the State had failed to do contact tracing of positive cases properly. When it was the norm that for every case, at least 20 contacts needed to be tested, Kerala’s contact tracing ratio was woefully inadequate at 1:1.5, meaning that not even two contacts were traced for every case.

Of the ₹817 crore collected through vaccine challenge, the government had utilised only ₹29 crore. Ideally, this amount should be used for purchasing vaccines and distributing it free of cost through private hospitals, Mr. Satheesan said.

He alleged that all COVID control activities were now decided by a coterie of IAS officers, including the Health Secretary. The recent order of the government, which fixed a charge of ₹750 a day for a bed in the general ward in government hospitals was a clear indication of the manner in which the bureaucracy had taken over the reins of COVID control.

The Health Minister still had not agreed to withdraw the said order, he said.

Instead of signing beneath whatever officials write and give, administrators should show the wisdom and discretion to read it and apply their own mind, Mr. Satheesan said.

Since July 2021, the minutes of the review meetings were not being released. Till April, only 50,000 tests per day were being done and it is only in recent times that the testing has increased substantially. But even so, RT-PCR tests comprise only 30% of the total tests done. Rapid Antigen Tests have lower sensitivity. Tamil Nadu does 100% RT-PCR tests, Mr. Satheesan pointed out.

The State’s constant refrain is that it has been doing a better job than all other States as far as COVID control is concerned. Yet, the State reports the highest number of cases in the country, he said.

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