Thiruvananthapuram, March 13 (IANS) Both the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Friday criticised the Kerala government for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

After the Speaker allowed a discussion on coronavirus in the Kerala Assembly, former State Minister and IUML leader M.K. Muneer, who is a doctor by profession, accused the state government of callousness for not heeding the Centre’s warning to start screening of people at the airports in the state.

Muneer said: “Don’t misunderstand us that we are trying to find faults rather we are laying out facts. On February 26, the Centre issued an advisory to track all the passengers arriving from Italy but the Kerala government stepped up the airport surveillance after March 1.”

“Three passengers (who have now been identified and are the primary cause of the spread of coronavirus in the state) landed from Italy on February 29 and went to Pathanamthitta. A ship from Italy also arrived at Kochi port recently, of which no one was aware. The passengers on the ship even went shopping at Kochi and then left,” he added.

State BJP president K. Surendran also pointed out that it was the callous attitude of the Kerala health authorities that has led to this outbreak.

“The Centre had timely asked all the state governments to be on a high alert for all passengers arriving from Italy, South Korea and a few other countries. In her Facebook post, Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said that strong surveillance began from March 2. The Kerala government was celebrating after it was able to contain the first outbreak in the state when the Centre issued advisory on February 26 and did not pay attention to it,” said Surendran.

Replying to the allegations, Shailaja said at the moment we should stand together rather than hurling accusations.

The Kerala government has called a meeting on Saturday at all the 14 district headquarters to be presided over by a state minister and all the people’s representatives to chalk out a strategy on how to handle this pandemic.

More than 5,000 people are under observation in Kerala while 16 are affected.

–IANS

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