Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan refuted allegations about the sudden spike in coronavirus cases being related to Onam, saying it was "against facts" as very little relaxations were allowed during the festival. Terming such allegations as "propaganda", he accused the opposition of flouting safety norms and sending out a wrong message.
In this context, he also mentioned Union health minister Dr Harshvardhan, who, he said, appears to have "understood that cases have increased due to Onam".
"This should be seen in a positive way. Festivals are coming across India. Large gatherings are expected. Kerala as a state withstood well, but people violated protocols and had gatherings. This should not happen in other places," he added.
The reality of Kerala, Mr Vijayan said, was different.
People were told that there would be no public celebrations, programmes or gatherings. Restrictions were not eased in containment zones. "Shops were functioning till 9 pm. Malls, shopping complex etc were allowed, but with restrictions and home delivery was encouraged," he said.
But the opposition, he said, held protests, clashed with the police and violated all safety measures.
"At a specific phase, when police was busy with all Covid containment measures, the opposition held widespread protests, throwing away masks, held gatherings, attacked the police, giving a kind of message that Covid is not an issue. Responsible leaders were leading these protests, giving a wrong impression to people," he said.
A Centrally-appointed medical committee recently said a spike can be expected during the festival time and the onset of winter if safety measures are not strictly observed.
As evidence, they had cited the case of Kerala where after the Onam festival -- observed between August 22 and September 2 -- a sharp rise in Covid numbers was observed from September 8.
The infection probability increased by 32 per cent and the effectiveness of medical response dropped by 22 per cent for Kerala in September, the committee had said.