For the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kerala, a government medical professional has been tested positive in the state on Tuesday, confirmed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. On Tuesday, 14 more cases of the novel coronavirus in Kerala, taking the total positive cases to 109. Out of these, 105 patients are still under treatment.
Six of these cases were reported from Kasaragod, the district with the maximum number of COVID-19 cases in Kerala. Two have been reported from Kozhikode.
Out of the 14, eight of the cases were people who had returned from Dubai, 1 from Qatar and another from the United Kingdom. Three other cases were found to be primary contacts of the people who came from abroad, the Chief Minister added.
The number of persons under observation in the state rose to 72,460 on Tuesday. Among them, 71,994 are under home quarantine while 467 are isolated in hospitals. Kerala has so far tested 4,516 samples of people, out of this 3331 has returned negative. On Tuesday, 164 suspected cases have been admitted to hospitals in the state, the Chief Minister added.
Tuesday was day one of the state-wide lockdown imposed in Kerala to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Chief Minister said. However, he added that despite orders issued to the public to not step out of their houses, unless for emergencies or to procure essential items, not everyone was seen abiding by the rule.
“People are requested to follow health advisories when they visit the shops. They are asked to not stay back. No vendors should hoard commodities or increase prices. People who do that will be faced with very strict action,” he added.
To strengthen the implementation, state police chief, Loknath Behera on Tuesday had stated that, from Wednesday, people coming out to streets for emergency cases will be asked to submit an affidavit to police officers.
For private vehicles, the Kerala police had issued an advisory which requires drivers to produce a document mentioning their vehicle number, address and the purpose of their journey. Apart from the driver, only one other passenger would be allowed inside private vehicles. In case, drivers furnish wrong details in the affidavit, the Chief Minister warned that strict action would be taken.
The CM also added that separate passes would be issued to persons working in hospitals, security staff, mobile tower operators and sellers of essential commodities such as newspapers, milk, medicines etc. As for media professionals and government staff, their identity card would suffice, clarified the CM.
As part of the lockdown, shops selling vegetables, groceries, cattle feed and bakeries had been allowed to stay open from 7 am to 5 pm. However, the timing in Kasaragod, which went into lockdown on March 21 over possibility of an outbreak, will remain the same - from 11 am to 5 pm, the CM clarified.
On Tuesday, Pinarayi held a meeting with the MLAs of Kasaragod district, which sees 41 positive cases of COVID-19.
“The MLAs have asked me to ensure that there is no shortage of commodities. Counselling should also be given for those persons who are undergoing a difficult time,” he added.
For public health workers, accommodation will be provided near Public Health Centres. Local Bodies in the state will provide them vehicles to reach their houses.
“The government will also use the testing facility at Indian Science Research Institute (ISSER) Thiruvananthapuram,” Pinarayi added.