Kerala’s health ministry order banning officials from speaking to the media sparked controversy, but state health minister Veena George on Monday denied any gag order, saying some provisions had been taken for uniformity.
The director of state health services, Dr VR Raju, issued a directive on Saturday requiring all health officials, especially district medical officers of health (DMO), to obtain permission from the management of the health before talking to the media. An explanation was also sought from Dr Omar Farooq, DMO of Kozhikode, who shared information with the media about a doctor returning to the UK whose samples were sent for testing, fearing an infection with Omicron. Samples from her mother and maid were also sent for examination.
Opposition parties and health activists lamented the move, saying it was aimed at covering up facts and that the government had yet to learn from its “mistake of omitting many deaths from the list. of deaths just to maintain his track record “.
âHe was forced to add more than 5,000 deaths and many such cases are pending. Had the court verdict not been delivered, these deaths would have gone unnoticed. The latest is yet another attempt to fake the facts, âsaid opposition congressman VD Satheesan, adding that the government wanted everything to be a public relations exercise.
But the minister denied. âIt wasn’t a gag. The order was given to maintain consistency and avoid confusion. It will also help contain unnecessary panic. It aimed to streamline information and facts through a single window, âsaid George.
But health activists have said that instead of bringing more transparency, the government is imposing restrictions on health officials, the real infantry in the fight against the pandemic. âShe has yet to learn a lesson from her mistakes. The minister admitted that 7,000 deaths had been left out. This is another tactic to silence officials. It also prevents experts from engaging in public relations exercises, âsaid public health expert Dr SS Lal.
The Kerala branch of the Indian Medical Association also questioned the decision. “If no one speaks with authority, wild speculation will increase,” said IMA secretary Joseph Benaven.
Kerala was the first state to report a Covid-19 infection in the country in January 2020.
The state reported 3,277 new cases of Covid on Monday, after 45,414 samples were tested with a test positivity rate of 7.21%. It also reported 30 deaths but added 138 backlogged deaths and the total is 41,768. It has an active workload of 40,730, according to data from the state’s health ministry. The state has so far reported 5,157,369 cases.
With 5,833 more people recovered from the virus since Sunday, total recoveries have reached 50,864,044 and active cases have fallen to 40,730, according to the state government statement.
Many health experts and opposition parties have alleged the government is not transparent with its data and is looking for public relations records and campaigns. But the ruling CPI (M) denied it. “Instead of playing the role of an opposition to the construction, he finds fault with everything the government does,” CPI (M) A Vijayaraghavan chief said.