RBI Should Lend Directly to State Government To Fight With COVID-19 Pandemic: Kerala Minister

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Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has made suggestions for the managing financials in the tough times of COVID-19. The Kerala State Minister said that not only lockdown but intense testing of people and tracing of their contacts are also equally important in the fight against the outbreak.

According to his suggestion, the Central Government should allow states to directly borrow from the Reserve Bank of India amid the coronavirus crisis.

Kerala, which was the first state in the country to report a coronavirus infection in late January, has also prepared a time table for coming out of the lockdown and there would be district-specific strategies to tackle the situation while the number of cases are on the decline.

In efforts to curb spreading of coronavirus infections, the country is under a 21-day lockdown till April 14 and many states have sought an extension amid rising number of cases. Kerala has proposed extending the lockdown and gradual phasing out after proper assessment.

“Lockdown should go on till we stamp out entire infections. Now, it is not enough to have lockdown. Equally important is that we should have intense testing, tracing and isolating (of people with coronavirus infections),” he was quoted in media.

The government is closely monitoring the situation and there would be region-specific or district-specific strategies in place to tackle the outbreak, he said.

Against the backdrop of the lockdown that has also disrupted economic activities, Isaac said an exit strategy is being prepared and restrictions are being relaxed in certain segments, including agriculture.

“The number of patients is coming down (in the state). We hope that in the coming days, the decline will be much more faster,” he said during the interview late Friday.

On Saturday, the Kerala government said there were a total of 373 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 228 patients were under treatment in various hospitals in the state.

Keeping the trend in the last few days, the number of people under observation has come down to 1,23,490. So far, 14,613 samples from people with symptoms were sent for testing and the results of 12,818 samples have come negative, the government said in a statement on Saturday.

Indicating that there would be a calibrated exit from the lockdown, Isaac said the withdrawal would depend on three main factors, including the count of cases and the percentage of people who are under observation.

While emphasising that people must also be fed during the lockdown period, Isaac also said a time table is being prepared by the state to come out of the lockdown.

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