Is Kerala Witnessing Community Spread?

Thiruvananthapuram: Is Kerala witnessing the much-dreaded community spread? That is the question being hotly discussed in the political corridors. Opinion is, however, sharply divided on the issue.  Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has flatly denied community transmission. The Chief Minister quoted liberally from figures to dismiss the fears of a community spread.

Power Minister A K Balan however voiced his fears that community transmission may have started in his home district, Palakkad. The Minister’s opinion was based on the fact that Palakkad has been topping the list of Covid positive cases of late. A committee of experts has also expressed the same fears. It has recommended that the Government take appropriate steps assuming that community spread has, indeed, started.

The truth could be somewhere in between. There is no denying that the number of positive cases has seen an alarming rise ever since the expatriates started returning.  It is a matter of satisfaction, said the CM, that fewer people are getting infected through contacts. Indians returning from foreign countries account for majority of the increasing positive cases. This being the ground reality, the fears of community transmission are baseless, the Chief Minister contended.

There are disturbing reports that, apart from Palakkad, Kannur may also witness community spread. Kannur’s district collector is on record that people are moving about freely in flagrant violation of the lockdown-related guidelines.  Such violations need to be put down with a heavy hand.  In a welcome move, a triple lockdown has been imposed on the district. The situation demands utmost vigilance and not slackening of it.

There is also an urgent need for increasing tests. The Government has decided to go in for more tests, say, as many as 3,000. That is the right thing to do. Test, isolate and treat should be the strategy for the future.

BevQ App Spoiling Tipplers’ Party

Meanwhile, the BevQ app, which has been launched to facilitate liquor sale in the State, is spoiling the party of liquor consumers. The app has developed technical problems disrupting the sales process. The technical errors have created confusion, deepening the tipplers’ travails in acquiring the amber stuff after a long and patient wait of 60 days.

Out of the 3.5 lakh people who have downloaded the app, only 2. 25 lakh have managed to buy the stuff. Many who had the tokens were unable to open the app due to ‘connection errors’. A sizable section of the tipplers had difficulty in downloading the app even as the One Time Password (OTP), which normally takes a few minutes, took 20 to 30 minutes to arrive!

The technical errors got on the nerves of the tipplers in many parts of the State and there were large crowds in front of beverages outlets in some districts.  A large number of people managed to buy liquor without the mandatory tokens, thanks to the ‘co-operation’ of the bar workers. The situation turned so serious that the police had to file a case against a Bar owner, who was found violating the norms governing the sale of liquor.

The Managing Director of BevQ, has, however, sought to allay the fears of liquor consumers. These are teething troubles, and that the technical errors will be corrected soon, he claimed. The ‘antics’ of the app has been pounced upon by the Opposition to allege that there is corruption in the making of the app by ‘Faircode Technologies’, a Kochi-based start-up owned by a CPI(M)-fellow traveller. The company has little experience in the field, which explains the failure of the app.

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