Kerala resumes 28-day quarantine for ‘suspects’

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 09, 2020

5 of extended family, infant among new Covid-19 cases

Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja on Monday said that the health department has decided to resume the 28-day home quarantine rule after six travellers from virus-hit Italy proved positive after Covid-19 screening tests.

The quarantine had been relaxed last month to 14 days after the state appeared to have ridden over the initial scare when it reported the country’s first three known cases of infection earlier in January and February. The patients have been discharged from isolation wards in hospitals since then.

Warns of strict action

Separately, the Health Department has warned that it will not hesitate to take legal action against individuals who hide their travel history to and from the infected destinations abroad.

The warning follows identification of six new cases (three of a family in Pathanamthitta and two close kin in Kottayam on Saturday and an unrelated infant from Kochi on Monday), all returning from Italy.

Local bodies and the community have been advised to report the arrival of any person from abroad in their neighbourhood to the health authorities. The situation calls for responsible behaviour from the community, the health minister said.

Meanwhile, the Director of Public Instruction said here that the SSLC and Higher Secondary examinations slated from Tuesday will be conducted as per schedule, under high security and vigil. An estimated 13 lakh students are taking the annual examinations in the state. As a matter of abundant caution, special facilities would be made available for those who show symptoms such as light fever or cough, which may be mistaken for a virus infection.

State of high alert

High alert has been declared in the State yet again. The six new patients have been put in isolation wards in hospitals and are reported to be stable. The Health Minister said the Pathanamthitta family had set a bad precedent by not only refusing to reveal its travel history but also resisting moves to shift them to a hospital. Those hiding their travel history to avoid personal inconvenience are committing a crime by exposing the larger public to a avoidable health hazard, and would definitely invite action, the Minister said.

Directive to passengers

The department has since launched a laborious drive to trace down all potential persons who might have come into contact with the family that had boarded Qatar Airways flight QR 126 (Venice-Doha). It landed in Doha at 11.20 pm on February 28, allowing the family a layover of one-and-a-half hours at the Doha airport, before boarding flight QR 514 Doha-Kochi to reach CIAL Airport, Kochi, on February 29 at 8.20 am. From there, their daughter’s family, including a four-year-old child, had dropped them in their car at their house in Pathanamthitta.

Panic buying of masks

Meanwhile, face masks and sanitisers have run out of stock in Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram districts after people resorted to panic buying, according to several reports reaching here. Face masks were amongst the most sought after but sold at many times their price, or had simply disappeared from the shelves. Thiruvananthapuram saw a huge demand on Monday in view of the special alert for the annual Attukal Pongala festival attended by lakhs of women pilgrims.

Published on March 09, 2020

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