Kerala seeks financial package to deal with Covid-19 pandemic

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Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has warned that the extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 3 will put the states in big financial crisis.

Talking to a television channel following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation, he said that the states would not be able to effectively implement the lockdown only without financial assistance from the state.

He has urged Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to call a conference of the state finance ministers and evolve a financial package. “The states are now borrowing funds from banks at market rates. This would put states like Kerala into serious crisis,” he added.

Thomas Isaac demanded an increase of the state’s borrowing limit from the current three percent of the GDP to five percent. The minister said that Kerala is able to flatten the covid-19 curve by providing relief to all sections of people. The state will not be able to continue these relief measures without financial assistance from the Centre.

The finance minister said that the country would not be able to check the spread of the virus by putting people locked at homes. The infection can be contained only with extensive testing. He pointed out that Kerala was flattening of the virus curve with measures like early detection, aggressive testing and contact tracing.

From one infection on January 30 to 378 on April 13 and two deaths so far, the state has seen 198 people recover. It recorded its highest cases in a day (39) on March 27, and the lowest on March 19 (1). On April 12, it was just two cases.

As early as January 18, the state health department issued a Covid-19 alert and began to screen passengers arriving from abroad, initially from China. International arrivals were given a health card in which they had to list their travel details and health condition.

Image Credit: Business Standard

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