Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday, told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram that people of the state would be vaccinated for free whenever the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. "The government will bear all expenses. We are ready once the Union health ministry gets us enough ampoules," he said adding preference will be given to frontline health workers.

Kerala now joins the list of states that have announced free vaccination for its people, like BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The BJP promised free vaccination in Bihar just before election to the legislative assembly in October.

The chief minister also said that the cases of coronavirus were coming down and it was a big achievement to maintain low death rate in the state. It was below 0.5 per cent against 1.3 per cent of the national rate, he said. Vijayan also urged people to exercise extreme caution and follow the Covid-19 protocol mandated by the government so that the situation did not further deteriorate.

"The fact is that the number of COVID-19 cases is decreasing, which is a matter of relief. However, it needs to be seen if the local body polls, two phases of which are over, would contribute to increase in cases. That will be known only in the days to come," Vijayan told reporters.

Kerala on Saturday reported 5,949 new coronavirus cases after conducting 59,690 tests in the last 24 hours. Out of these as many as 47 were health workers, 83 had come from outside the state. While 5,173 others infected through contact and the source of infection of 646 people was not known. The number of fatalities in a day was at 32.

Malappuram recorded the highest number of cases at 765, followed by Kozhikode 763 and Ernakulam 732. Kasaragod accounted for the lowest number of 60 cases on Saturday. The day also saw 5,268 people getting cured as the total recoveries rose to 6,01,861 while the active cases stood at 60,029.

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