75-year-old Aysha from Badiyadka village of Kasaragod district has to visit her neurologist in Mangaluru every 10 days as she is undergoing treatment for paralysis.
Abdul Khader, a resident of Uppala, has to go to his hospital in Kankanady of Mangaluru every week for his dialysis.
Like Aysha and Khader, there are hundreds from Kerala who depend on hospitals in Mangaluru for their treatment.
After Karnataka closed the borders for vehicles from Kerala, people in Kasaragod and Kannur districts, who largely depend on hospitals in Mangaluru for treatment, due to lack of medical facilities in Kasaragod, are in trouble. The border at Thalappady that connects Kasaragod and Dakshina Kannada district has also been closed along with all other borders of Karnataka. The Karnataka government decided to go for a total lockdown as COVID-19 cases in Kasaragod increased, it crosses 80 on Friday.
On Friday, a woman from Manjeshwaram of Kasaragod had to deliver her baby in the ambulance because she could not reach the hospital in Mangaluru as the road was blocked. Gauri Devi, 25, and her husband Dinnath, are workers at a plywood factory in Kunjathur of Manjeshwaram. Gauri went into labour and her husband pleaded with Karnataka officials to let them pass through the border to reach a hospital in Mangaluru. However, the officers did not budge. The ambulance returned to the district hospital in Kasaragod town which is more than 35 kilometers from the state border. On the way, Gauri delivered a baby girl near Mogral Puthur. Thankfully, the mother and child are safe and are currently being taken care of in Kasaragod Government General Hospital.
"Mangaluru hospitals are closer for the residents of Manjeshwaram than coming to Kasaragod town. The condition of dialysis patients is pathetic. We have no better hospitals nearby. Even Primary Health Centers don't have enough facilities," Manjeshwaram Panchayat President Abdul Azeez told TNM.
Abdul Hameed, a 60-year-old Manjeshwaram resident, died on Friday as he couldn't reach his hospital in Derlakatte of Mangaluru just 12 kilometres away from his house.
"His relatives pleaded with the officers with tears in their eyes. If they had reached the hospital in time, his life would have been saved," Abdul Azeez said.
He added that there are many people from across Kerala who are waiting in Manjeshwaram to go to Mangaluru for their treatment. "There are patients from Kozhikode, Malappuram and Kollam waiting to go to Mangaluru. They were in treatment in Mangaluru hospitals for several months," the Panchayat President said.
Dakshina Kannada District Collector Sindhu Roopesh told TNM that the decision to block people's movement through Thalappady was made by the Karnataka government and that until further notification, the situation will continue.
"We have allowed essential goods service through Thalappady. But people's movements are restricted and everywhere, it's the same," she said.
The Dakshina Kannada Police Commissioner tweeted on Friday that the district was going in for a complete lockdown as the neighbouring district of Kasaragod has reported a high number of coronavirus cases.
TOTAL LOCKDOWN TOMORROW.. please find enclosed detailed press release ..in wake of high cases reported in neighbouring kasaragod..in A high level meeting chaired by Hon district minister in presence of MLA/ MLCs and MP it has been decided to enforce total lockdown..STAY HOME... pic.twitter.com/Ex2dX9Mb9Gâ€” Harsha IPS CP Mangaluru City (@compolmlr) March 27, 2020
There are almost 17 roads that connect Kerala and Dakshina Kannada. All the roads are now blocked with barricades and mud.
Vorkady, another panchayat on the Kerala Karnataka border, has many cancer patients and pregnant woman who are stranded as they are not able to go to hospitals in Karnataka. Vorkady Panchayat President Abdul Majeed told TNM that nobody has listened to their problems yet.
"They have kept the barricades in Kerala's soil. Karnataka is almost 300 metres ahead of these barricades. Many patients who require dialysis, cancer patients who go for radiation therapies, pregnant women...all are struggling here. Derlakatte is just 11 kilometres from our Panchayat, a place with three medical colleges. All of us depend on those for our treatments. Kasaragod town is 45 kilometers from here. Only one or two hospitals in Kasaragod provide dialysis, so they are full on all days," Abdul Majeed said.
Karnataka has blocked its borders with all neighboring states to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking to the media, Kerala Industries Minister EP Jayarajan said that it was a grievous mistake on the part of Karnataka and that they should rethink the decision. He also said that the Kerala government will try its best to solve the issue.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan mentioned in the press meet on Friday that the border issues will be taken seriously.
He has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the closure of Thalassery-Coorg National Highway 30 and urged the PM to intervene urgently.
"This road connects Kerala with Karnataka via Virajahpettah. This route is the lifeline flow of essential commodities to Kerala. If this is blocked vehicles carrying essential commodities will have to travel a much longer route to reach our state," the letter says.
Speaking to a few Malayalam mediapersons, Union Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said that he will take all measures to open at least two roads that connect Kerala and Karnataka. "Two major roads that connect Mysuru have been opened so that essential goods can reach Kerala. The Kodagu road is not used by many people," he said.
"Hospital cases are another issue. But we have been informed that all the hospitals in Mangaluru are full. They cannot afford to have more patients. So, hospitals and medical colleges themselves have requested that more people are not allowed," he said.
With Inputs from Prajwal Bhat