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Covid-19: Kerala observes Janata curfew, CM warns violators of guidelines

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 22, 2020 Published on March 22, 2020

The deserted Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram during the Janata Curfew on March 22. Photo: S Mahinsha/The Hindu

This comes in the context of a sudden spurt in Covid-19 positive cases to 52 by Saturday

Entire Kerala appeared to have shut itself down on Sunday as people, barring a few, chose to remain indoors, and shops and business shuttered with virtually no traffic as the Janata Curfew proposed by the Prime Minister came into effect to stress social distancing to check the Covid-19 spread.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had exhorted the public to observe the Janata Curfew, and warned of imposing ban orders in the state to rein in violators of civic laws. This comes in the context of a sudden spurt in Covid-19 positive cases to 52 by Saturday, mostly due to acts of indiscretion by those returnees from abroad. Places of worship too are required to follow the directives or they will be forced to shut down, the Chief Minister told newspersons here after a Covid-19 review here.

Gross acts of incivility

He requested the public not to entertain the violators of laws and to reject their gross incivility. They have had the gumption to reduce to a mockery the best efforts of doctors, nurses, paramedics and public health activists to prevent the virus spread.

"These discourteous people should remember that the toil of public health officials and activists in these hard times is in their interests as well," the Chief Minister said.

Likely infecting thousands

Describing their attitude as inexplicable, he said they are living in a fool's paradise. His ire was directed towards a person returning from Dubai and testing positive, but not before infecting possibly thousands of people in Kozhikode and Kasaragod districts due to his act of indiscretion.

How he managed to evade health screening at the airport is not yet clear, and worse, he has refused to cooperate with doctors for preparing his route map and alert others who may have come into contact with him. This, according to the Chief Minister, was unacceptable and the government would proceed sternly with him.

Irresponsible behaviour

"In Kasargod, we have already seen the result of irresponsible behaviour. This patient's route map has been prepared only in part using information from fellow travellers and CCTV footage. Despite doctors efforts in counselling and collecting information on many occasions, ambiguity surrounds his movements."

This requires further investigation, the Chief Minister said, amids suspicion that he could be a smuggler who does not want to disclose his contacts. "Strict legal action will be taken against those who are putting the people of the state in danger," the Chief Minister said.

Stricter controls warned

The government is not prepared to compromise on the public safety, even if stricter controls are required to ensure it. A majority of the population and various religious leaders have expressed full support to and compliance with its guidelines. Still, there have been cases of mass gatherings in some areas.

"The problem is that even though the country has united against this pandemic, some still refuse to see the danger. They must realise that such arrangements are being made for their benefit too. If they are not prepared to comply, they will face strict action. The police have been instructed to intervene to ensure law and order," the Chief Minister said.

Special care centres

Superintendents of Police (SPs) have been given special duty in districts. They will also be specifically assigned to other vital tasks. Those who are under surveillance are advised to stay in government-run specialist care centers. People with heart disease, cancer, and those who with fragile health should move into these specialist centers. Special care centers will be provided for the homeless.

A committee comprising of the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Chief of Police will be constituted to ensure necessary services. The Revenue Secretary will oversee the Disaster Relief Office and processes of data management. The Committee on Public Transport, Transport Secretary, Transport Commissioner and MD of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation will oversee matters relating to transport and freights.

No blockade of cargo movement

"The Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary has assured us on behalf of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister that inbound cargo will not face any blockage along the state border," the Chief Minister said. But he advised the public to avoid long-distance trips in buses. Those who arrive from abroad and go on to violate the declaration signed by themselves at the airport will face harsh penalties.

Unnecessary outings, including shopping trips should be avoided. People should avoid panic but ensure themselves of necessary supplies. The government is committed to ensuring a normal life in the state. A meeting of business associations has been convened on Monday. Shopkeepers and business will intensify their home delivery systems.

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Published on March 22, 2020
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