Lockdown in Kerala as six new cases of Covid-19 surface

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 10, 2020

File photo   -  jarun011

Schools, colleges to close from Wednesday; exams as per schedule

Kerala has announced a major clampdown on public functions in the state, and is closing down schools and colleges with six new cases of Covid-19 being reported on Tuesday. The total number of infected people in the state has risen to 15, with the first three ― also the country’s first ― having been discharged after recovery.

The six new cases have been identified as high-risk contacts of a three-member family that had arrived from virus-hit Italy in Kochi on February 29, and who had proceeded home unscreened to Ranni in Pathanamthitta district.

Only exams allowed

The government is trying its best to contain the spread of the dreaded virus, which had opened a new front with the family likely infecting thousands of people by visiting kin, various places of worship, public offices, and supermarkets.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons here after a meeting of the Cabinet that regular classes will stop in all educational institutions, including colleges and professional institutions, from tomorrow (Wednesday) as a step in abundant precaution. Only scheduled examinations (SSLC and Higher Secondary) will be allowed in schools. There will also be a ban on summer vacation classes/tuitions.

Avoid mass gatherings

Theatres too have been asked to close down till March-end. Staging of dramas/shows will not be allowed. The government is taking up with the Centre the case of those employed abroad who risk loss of jobs due to restrictions on travel. The DGP of police has been directed to update the Health Department details of foreign nationals/citizens currently travelling in the state.

Centres of worship are being requested to avoid conducting major festivals to prevent mass gatherings. This will apply for even the hill shrine of Sabarimala where only daily rituals will be carried out, without formal darshans. The State government will also cancel all mass contact programmes and public functions. The ongoing session of the Legislative Assembly will run its course.

Violation of law

All international travellers arriving at airports/ports should disclose their country/city of origin and any attempt to evade screening or hide symptoms will be deemed as violation of law and accordingly acted upon. The government is reaching out to private hospitals in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. Carriers of the virus must strictly observe quarantine/isolation and avoid contacting others.

The government will also work with resident associations in urban areas and ASHA workers to identify those who have arrived from international destinations. While there is no cause for alarm, there is utmost need to observe caution, the Chief Minister said. The government is exploring the possibility of sourcing/manufacturing adequate quantities of face masks and sanitisers.

Published on March 10, 2020

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