THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The sight of voters lining up at booths in the first phase of the elections might have given hope to political parties of achieving their dream of capturing the civic bodies. However, from the public health perspective, it is chilling. Health department officials feel this will trigger the next exponential spike of Covid-19 cases in the state. They cite multiple aspects like voters flouting the ground rules like maintaining physical distancing and wearing of facemasks.

“This delinquency from the part of voters will definitely have an impact on the Covid situation. We are already in a precarious situation as various sectors had reopened and people started crowding the streets. Then came the local body election campaigning and now the elections. The pandemic curve will climb for certain,” said an official. According to another health official, though the State Election Commission mandates physical distancing and barred crowding, these were openly violated at many polling stations. “At some polling stations, there was not even floor markings for physical distancing.

There was crowding in and outside the polling stations. The officials including police personnel didn’t make any efforts to prevent the same. In the time of a public health crisis, such negligence is unpardonable. The faults that happened in the first phase should be rectified in the remaining two phases. Otherwise, we are courting trouble,” said the official.

For the third time in the month, the number of deaths confirmed as due to Covid-19 in a day crossed the 30-mark on Tuesday. As many as 31 Covid deaths were recorded on the day. At the same time, the state’s daily test positivity rate came down to 8.31 per cent from 9.21 per cent recorded on Monday. A total of 5,032 fresh cases and 4,735 recoveries were recorded on Tuesday. Of the new patients, 4,380 contracted the infection through local transmission, while The sources of infection are unknown in 517 cases. The newly infected include 98 returnees and 37 health workers. In the first eight days of the month, 228 Covid deaths were recorded, which includes the highest-ever single day death tally of 32 on December 5. During the same period in November and October, it was 208 and 188

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