Kerala HC bans gatherings, celebrations till Tuesday

Taking note of the fast rising Covid cases in the state, the Kerala High Court on Friday ordered that starting from Saturday till Tuesday there should be no gathering or celebrations anywhere in any form in the state. The court was acting on a bunch of petitions.

Covid has been spreading like wildfire in Kerala and on Thursday 38,607 people tested positive and the number of active cases touched 2,84,086, both figures the highest ever in the state.

This direction comes at a time when the counting of votes for the assembly elections is due to take place on Sunday. The court directed that there should be no victory celebrations at all and any violation would be dealt with strictly.

Acting on another petition on the pandemic, the court asked the state government to ensure that the private health sector does not fleece the patients.

It asked the state government to see how best it can intervene in this aspect and asked the government to come back with its proposal on Tuesday.

Another strong intervention by the court came when it stayed last week’s order of the Kollam district collector directing the state public sector and Kollam based Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited to supply a fixed quantity of oxygen that they produce to Kollam hospitals.

The court said Covid is a statewide phenomenon and there should be a centralised distribution policy. It asked the state government to step in.

Moreover, even though Covid vaccination began in the state first for health professionals in the third week of January, the initial response was poor and at that time the test positivity rate in the state had fallen into single digit.

Even though there was a marginal increase in the cases towards the end of January, the state government did not make any big intervention to propagate the need for vaccination.

As a result the response from the general public towards vaccination was not that enthusiastic.

And when things started to go out of hand with the TPR climbing and reaching 25 per cent last week, the people started to crowd vaccination centres, only to return empty handed.

The Kerala government after initially demanding free supply of vaccines by the Centre, decided to order one crore doses as from Saturday onwards vaccination is going to be open to all who are above 18 years.