Thiruvananthapuram | Jagran News Desk: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday evening extended the coronavirus-induced lockdown in the state till June 16, giving various relaxations to the people across southern state.

Making the announcement, Vijayan, who won the recently concluded assembly elections in Kerala, said all stores and shops dealing in essential services, raw materials for industries and construction sites can operate on all weekdays.

The Kerala Chief Minister also announced that banks can also operate as per the COVID-19 guidelines in the state till June 16. However, he said that complete lockdown will be observed in the state on Saturdays and Sundays.

The senior Left Democratic Front (LDF) leader also lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the central government for the new uniform COVID-19 vaccination policy, saying it would benefit people across the country.

"The Prime Minister's declaration that COVID019 vaccine will be supplied free of cost to the States from 21 June, is the most appropriate response at this hour. I am happy that our request has been positively responded to by the Prime Minister," Vijayan was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Lockdown was imposed in Kerala, days after the election commission declared the result of the assembly polls in the state. It was later extended on several occasions as COVID-19 cases continued to rise. Last week, Vijayan had also imposed additional restrictions in the state to "reduce the COVID-19 positivity rate".

Kerala, despite a lockdown, has been witnessing a rise in cases. On Sunday, the state reported 14,672 fresh coronavirus cases and 227 deaths, taking the total caseload in Kerala to 26.03 lakh and the toll to 9,946 respectively.

State Health Minister Veena George noted that the positivity rate in Kerala on Sunday was 14.27 per cent, adding that 1.02 lakh samples were tested in the last 24 hours. She further said that 2.05 crore samples have been tested for COVID-19 in Kerala so far.

"Out of those who were found infected today, 153 reached the state from outside while 13,638 contracted the disease through their contacts. The sources of infection of 814 are yet to be traced. Sixty seven health workers are also among the infected," George was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma