Covid-19: Don’t send in passenger trains without notice, says Kerala Chief Minister

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on May 27, 2020 Published on May 27, 2020

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan   -  THE HINDU

Kerala has taken exception to the manner in which passenger trains are being sent in at random and without notice, threatening to upset the delicate balancing act in its fight against Covid-19 as expatriates from abroad and evacuees from other states arrive in their hordes.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reminded the Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Railways should operate trains only after prior intimation. The travelling passengers should have mandatorily registered on the Covid Jagratha portal set up by the state.

Cases touch new peak

The issue came to light on Tuesday that coincided with the reporting of yet another new peak single-day Covid-19 cases at 67; the number of deaths at six; and the number of people quarantined in homes and hospitals climbing back from a few thousands to more than a lakh.

“Trains are coming in from all parts of the country and our citizens are welcome home, too. The only condition is that there should be prior intimation. The passenger list should be given to us. The latter should compulsorily register on the portal ahead so we will be prepared to receive them,” Vijayan said.

Arrivals in thousands

Those who arrive here are screened at the railway station and sent to home quarantine. But their list supplied in advance will help us ensure there is a proper facility for home quarantine. Any failure to do so would undermine our efforts to prevent spread of the disease. So far 1,02,279 persons have reached home - 8,721 by flights; 1,621 by ships; 5,363 by trains; and 86,574 by road.

Vjayan cited the case of a train being flagged off from Mumbai to Kerala without prior information. Despite the Railway Minister being informed, an additional train was sent down. This led to an ugly spat between Vijayan and the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. It was then the matter was brought to the notice of the Prime Minister.

More register on portal

The Chief Minister said that at least 3.80 lakh people have registered to come to Kerala from other states. Of these, 2.16 lakh passes have been issued and 1,01,779 have reached home. Another 1.34 lakh have registered to come back from abroad and out of this, 11,189 have reached the state till May 25.

The inbound travellers arrive from areas where the spread of the disease is huge. Naturally, the number of patients here will increase. So far 72 cases have been reported from those arriving from Maharashtra; 71 from Tamil Nadu; and 35 from Karnataka.

Everyone welcome home

“We need to receive them with care and no one will be excluded”, the Chief Minister said. Earlier, he had conferred with MLAs and MPs in the State through video-conferencing. He apprised them of the phased of Covid-19 preventive measures being taken.

All shared the sentiment that Kerala should continue to face this pandemic united. The public representatives also put forth their suggestions and the government would examine all of them seriously, the Chief Minister said.

Passenger break-up

Meanwhile, of the 67 new cases being reported on Tuesday, 27 are returnees from abroad (the UAE-16; Maldives-9; Qatar and Kuwait-1 each) and 33 have come back from other states (Maharashtra-15; Tamil Nadu-9; Gujarat-5; Karnataka-2; Delhi and Pondicherry-1 each). Seven are cases of local transmission. Also, 10 patients recovered the same day.

There are 963 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the state and 415 patients are now under treatment. At least 1,04,336 persons are under quarantine - 1,03,528 at homes or institutional quarantine centres and 808 in hospitals. Tuesday alone saw 186 fresh admissions.

Till now, 56,704 samples have been sent for testing and 54,836 samples have been confirmed with no infection. Apart from this, as part of sentinel surveillance of high-risk category people, 8,599 samples were tested and of these, 8,174 samples have tested negative. But independent sources reveal that tests per million are only around 1,440, below many of Kerala’s peers.

Published on May 27, 2020
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