With his latest election win, CM Pinarayi Vijayan has become the man of the moment, who has clearly solidified his presence as a formidable state leader.
Throughout his tenure, he has done a commendable job at leading development in Kerala. But especially in the last year, with the country battling the Covid-19 pandemic, CM Vijayan's efficient leadership has been praised by one and all.
Kerala, despite the rise in cases, reportedly has the lowest case fatality rate (0.39%) in the country.
While cases have soared in the last week, under the leadership of CM Pinarayi Vijayan, the state has introduced various measures to battle the virus:
1. In his first address after once again winning the elections, he cautioned party workers against celebrating the win and rather talked about battling Covid.
This is not the time to celebrate our huge win. Many wanted to celebrate but they have held back. Our fight against COVID will continue.
This victory belongs to the people of Kerala. I thank you all for reposing faith in the LDF once again. We need to come together more than ever before to tackle this pandemic and to take Kerala forward in the path of development, welfare and secularism!— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) May 2, 2021
2. Even in the days leading up to the election, his message was focused on battling Covid. He tweeted to advocate about double masking, home deliveries and cautioned people against profiteering from the disadvantaged in these difficult times.
Double masks in public spaces, shops, offices and anywhere outside the house make a big difference. Request political, social and religious leaders, film stars and cultural icons, individuals and organisations to join in creating awareness regarding it.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) April 30, 2021
Home delivery should be encouraged as much as possible. Traders can employ delivery staff. Orders can be taken on the phone or on @WhatsApp. This will reduce crowding in markets. In markets traders should maintain 2m distance between each other and wear double masks.#COVID19— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) April 30, 2021
This is not the first time CM Vijayan has focused on people and not power. Be it during the 2017 cyclone or the Nipah virus outbreak, his focus has always been to keep the people informed by providing regular updates via social media and/or public briefings.
3. With the rise in cases, the price for the RT-PCR test in Kerala was reduced from ₹1700 to ₹500 to ensure more people could get tested.
RTPCR testing charge in private centres has been reduced from ₹1700 to ₹500. It is all inclusive of test kits, PPE, swab charges etc. Reduced rate is applicable to all ICMR & State Govt. approved private labs and hospitals. Govt. hospitals are conducting these tests for free.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) April 29, 2021
There are reports of some private testing centres not following the prescribed rates for RTPCR tests, and some even refusing to conduct them. These are exceptional circumstances, not times for profiteering. Those who do not cooperate will face the consequences.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) May 1, 2021
4. Dedicated oxygen war rooms are being set up at district and state levels to ensure patients don't face oxygen shortages.
Dedicated Oxygen War Rooms will function at State and District levels with representatives of Police, Health, Transportation, Disaster Management and PESO. O2 stock is being monitored in the Districts by Collectors. O2 module will be included in Covid Jagratha portal. pic.twitter.com/BoQ4tFDauW— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) April 30, 2021
Every 4 hours availability of ventilators, ICU beds and normal beds in private hospitals will also be updated at each district level. This will ensure efficient monitoring and utilisation of resources. Information will be available through 1056 helpline.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) April 28, 2021
5. CM Vijayan also stated that Kerala will lay down a plan to procure vaccines directly from manufacturers and not wait for the Centre to provide doses.
Kerala will purchase 1 crore doses of #COVID19 vaccines from the open market. 70L doses of Covishield and 30L doses of Covaxin will be procured for next 3 months, May - July, for Rs. 483 crore. Priority for 2nd dose. Our vaccination drive will go ahead, uninterrupted.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) April 28, 2021
Kerala has vaccinated 57.58L with 1st and 10.39L with 2nd dose. Though GoI is yet to allow our request for 50L doses, we will not let our exceptional drive be halted for want of vaccines. To procure vaccines directly from the market, officials are in touch with both companies.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) April 26, 2021
CM Vijayan was also one of the many state leaders who requested PM Modi to make vaccination free for all, to ensure mass vaccination which is ultimately required to fight the virus.
In India major vaccines were distributed free of cost. When the country is going through a difficult situation it is not proper to impose a fee on vaccines.
6. In 2020, when the Covid-19 virus outbreak first broke in India, Kerala was hailed as a case study in handling the virus and "flattening the curve".
From contact tracing to effective isolation, Kerala, under the expert leadership of CM Vijayan and Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Kerala state, K.K. Shailaja ensured that it did not crumble under the deadly virus.
With roadside handwashing kiosks, local helplines, and heightened vigilance, the state authorities ensured that proper practices were followed at the grassroots level.
Local village council members and community workers came together to ensure patients were properly quarantined, the needy were provided adequate meals, and social distancing norms were followed.
Just like the rest of the country, Kerala is certainly not out of the woods yet. But it can not be denied that in times of crisis (not just Covid-19, but other disasters too), CM Vijayan has emerged as an able leader who has steered the state in the right direction. Hopefully, the rest of the country can take a leaf out of Kerala's effective healthcare system.