Days after it capped the rates for COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals, Kerala has sought to control the prices of key articles like PPE kits and masks required for preventing or treating COVID-19.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's government today invoked the Kerala Essential Articles Control Act, 1986 and also cited the Central government's advisory that all efforts be made to ensure healthcare remains affordable to make the move.
The order was issued today by the state's food and civil supplies department. As per its rate chart, a PPE kit cannot be priced higher than Rs 273 and an N95 mask cannot cost more than Rs 22. Similarly, a fingertip pulse oximeter now will not cost more than Rs 1,500.
Kerala had set apart 50% beds in Pvt. Hospitals for Covid care. Plus, KASP beneficiaries and Govt. referred patients get free #COVID19 treatment in all Empanelled Pvt. Hospitals. Now we have regulated and standardised the rates as well. pic.twitter.com/bvsrOkDq0o— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) May 10, 2021
On April 29, RTPCR testing charges at the state's private centres was reduced from Rs 1,700 to Rs 500. State government hospitals have been conducting these tests for free anyway.
The state today extended the COVID-19 lockdown by a week till May 23. The lockdown, imposed following a dramatic rise in the number of infections in the state in recent weeks, began on May 8 and was initially scheduled to end on the 16th of the month.
Four districts -- Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, and Malappuram -- have been put under a "triple lockdown" with more stringent restrictions than the other 10.
Kerala today reported 34,694 fresh Covid cases and 93 deaths related to the disease, according to data provided by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The number of infections reported today is, however, much less than yesterday's nearly 40,000, even as testing has also declined in the past 24 hours.