New Delhi: With coronavirus cases rapidly increasing in the southern state of Kerala, the state as of March 26 (1 pm) recorded 118 confirmed cases. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during a press conference on Wednesday noted that this includes a health worker. The Chief Minister further said that at least 76, 572 people were under observation besides 532 in isolation wards of various hospitals. Kerala had implemented the lockdown in the state on Monday, before the Prime Minister on March 24, imposed a nation-wide lockdown to control the spread of the virus.
CM Vijayan also asked people not to undertake any travel unless in case of emergency.
We need to understand the seriousness of the matter, he said.
The state has also imposed restriction on those who come out in their private vehicles.
The permission for private vehicles are for emergency purposes only. We have decided to gather the details of such private vehicles, the name and address of the driver, the purpose of travel, destination and time of return in an affidavit format, the CM informed during the press conference.
We are facing a dangerous situation. Though community transmission of the virus has not taken place, it is a sword hanging over our heads. We need to be careful and vigilant, CM Vijayan said.
CM Vijayan has also warned the traders who “exploit the situation” and increase prices of essential articles and said regular inspections will take place and violators booked. He has ensured that the state government will take care of the destitute people and the local self-governments (LSG) would play a vital role in tackling the pandemic.
At some places there are many who don’t have own place to sleep. Some rest in front of shops or on the street. Such people will be identified by the LSGs and necessary steps will be taken to provide them accommodation and food, he informed.
With the possibility of more cases surfacing, the state government has issued directions to legislators in the state to identify the buildings or houses which could be used as isolation wards in case of emergency, a government official told NDTV.
Meanwhile, 1,751 cases were registered in Kerala against people who hit the roads defying the prohibitory orders, taking the total number of the cases in the last two days to 3,612, police media cell said. The highest number of cases had been registered in Kozhikode district – 351 followed by Idukki (214), Kottayam (208) and Kasaragod (10), he informed NDTV.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has decided to provide all ration card holders, irrespective above or below poverty line (BPL) categories, 15 kg of rice free for a month. The BPL card holders will also be provided a provision kit. Packed food would be given to those in quarantine, community kitchen facility and door delivery of food articles and medicines if needed would be provided to those who are in quarantine at home, officials said.
Earlier this week, the health Minister of Kerala, KK Shailaja Teacher in an exclusive chat with NDTV said that the state is trying hard to tackle the problem. She said,
From the beginning we have had good standard operating procedures in place. 19 per cent of the positive cases in Kerala are primary contacts while 81percent cases are those who returned from abroad.
She further explained that the cases can be observed from two major clusters in Kerala – those who returned from Italy and Dubai.
More than 85 percent cases are from people who returned from Dubai. We are strengthening our screening and testing process. Initially, we had only 1 laboratory to test COVID-19 cases, whereas we have 10 labs with Indian Council of Medical Research approval. We trying to upgrade systems in other hospitals for sanction from ICMR, said Ms. Shailaja.
She further said that the state of Kerala has more than 1 lakh beds in government and private hospitals combined. She added,
For more critical cases, we have 5000 ventilators and ICU units. We are installing new ventilators in some hospitals.
She asserted that the state had to declare lockdown because of some people who were not following the advisories.
If people had followed home quarantine, these problems would have not emerged. First step was to screen people coming from abroad, isolating symptomatic patients to hospital, others in home quarantine. But some people make silly excuses for leaving home isolation against acting responsible, Ms. Shailaja told NDTV.
She further said that CM Vijayan has ordered stringent action against people don’t follow advisories and added,
As of now, we don’t have community spread, but can’t predict future. Our fear is the small number of people who have violated home isolation and self-quarantines. India is working hard to beat COVID-19 Kerala has mobilised more than 25000 health workers to help beat the virus in the state.