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Kerala favours partial lockdown till May 15


Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government favoured 'partial' coronovirus lockdown in the state till May 15 and sought aspecial financial package from the Centre for various sectors, including rehabilitation of expatriates who wish to return, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Monday.

Conveying the state's views to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union Home Minister Amit Shah, he has informed Kerala would have a cautious approach on lifting the curbs after May 3 and would favour having a partial lockdown till May 15, Vijayan said here.

The state favoured continuation of restrictions on inter- state and inter-district travel and the ban on public transport till the middle of next month, he told reporters.

Vijayan said Chief Secretary Tom Jose represented the state in the virtual meetting held by Modi with chief ministers since it was informed that Kerala may not get a chance to speakat the meeting due to paucity of time.

In a telephonic conversation with Shah, he suggested a national policy on lockdown that also caters to state-specific and regional needs.

The state would prefer having a partial lockdown till May 15 and then review the lockdown based on the COVID situation then. The state is of the opinion that, in districts where no cases are reported in the previous week, relaxations on public movement and public transport can be partially allowed by adhering to all safety precautions, he added.

Informing the Centre that the state had already suffered a loss of Rs 80,000 crore in the first quarter of 2020-21 due to the lockdown, it sought a special financial package.

"If the situation does not improve, we will suffer more loss. Hotel and restaurant sector has suffered a loss of around Rs 20,000 crore. Fisheries and IT sectors have reported heavy job loss. We need a special financial package...," Vijayan said.

The package was also meant for rehabilitating large number of non-resident Keralites expected to return from abroad and the Centre has been requested to book flight tickets for those expats who have low income, students and those who have lost their jobs due to lockdown, the chief minister said.

"What steps we are going to take we will decide on May 3", Vijayan said, replying to a question.

The state also sought for operation of non-stop trains for facilitating the return of stranded guest workers to their natives place in a phased manner.

With the state deciding on ramping up tests, Kerala has urged the Centre to provideadequate diagnostic kits.

"The price of the personal protection equipment kits are increasing along with the number of persons to be tested. We have requested the centre to take up the responsibility to gather the testing kits and distribute it among the states," Vijayan said.

He also wanted the Centre to ensure quality quarantine facilities for healthcare workers from Kerala who have tested positive for COVID-19 while working in other states.

"We have requested the respective chief ministers of those states to provide quality quarantine centres for them and apprised the Prime Minister also about it," Vijayan said.

He said the mobile app 'Arogya Setu' brought out by the Centre lacked data from Kerala and it had been brought to the attention of the Centre.

Vijayan also wanted small-scale traders to be provided with a loan of Rs two to Rs five lakh and the interest burden borne by the Centre.

Kerala has 123 active COVID-19 cases, while 355 have been cured. At least 20,301 peopleare under observation, including over 489 in various hospitals

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