We have to stop community spread at any cost, says Kerala CM

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on May 13, 2020 Published on May 13, 2020

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan   -  THE HINDU

‘Home quarantines may need to taper as room quarantines’

The Kerala government is treading familiar, but risky, terrain again in its fight against the coronavirus as new cases of infections are being reported from last week with the arrival of expatriates by air and sea and across its own borders with neighbouring States.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan warned people against harbouring any misplaced sense of complacency, as the State reported five new cases on Tuesday, with no comforting news on the recovery front.

Three of the newly infected are from Malappuram district, and one each from Pathanamthitta and Kottayam. Four of them had returned to the State from abroad, while one had travelled in from Chennai.

Caution, discretion advised

The need for caution and discretion was evident in the Chief Minister’s directive with respect to home-bound people from other States taking the road.

“Now, home quarantine is being allowed for them. The home quarantine should in effect be a room quarantine. You should stay in your room, and not interact with others, to avoid any risk to children, sick and the elderly at home. At this stage, no one should do beyond what is recommended by health workers and the government,” the Chief Minister said.

The police will ensure that anyone arriving at the airport, railway station or border checkpost by road reaches his or her home for quarantine or the government quarantine, as instructed.

So far 33,116 people have reached the State by road. Of these, 19,000 had come from Red Zone areas. Of the total 1.33 lakh people who applied for a pass, 72,800 were from Red Zone areas. Till now, 89,950 passes have been issued, with 45,157 going to those from Red Zone areas. There is a limit on the number of people who can cross the border everyday based on capacity of check posts to handle them without crowding.

‘New phase’

The total number of confirmed cases in the state is 524 as on Tuesday, while 32 patients are under treatment in different hospitals. Of these, as many as 23 patients had returned from outside the State and nine are cases of local transmission, having contracted the virus from the people returning to the state. “We are entering a new phase with non-residents returning,” the Chief Minister said.

“It will be a big challenge to keep those coming from the hotspots safe. We have to stop community spread at any cost lest repercussions go beyond our control. We are making elaborate arrangements for testing all those who are coming back by road, rail, flights and ships. We also take up the responsibility of ensuring the safety of all home-bound.”

38,547 samples tested

So far, 33,116 persons have come back to the state by road and 1,406 by flights and 833 by ships. There are currently 31,616 persons are under surveillance across the state. Of these, 31,143 are under quarantine at their homes and 473 are isolated at hospitals.

On Tuesday, 95 people were admitted fresh to hospitals.

The government has sent 38,547 samples for testing till date and 37,727 have been confirmed with no infection. As part of sentinel surveillance of high-risk group, 3,914 samples were collected and tested. Of these, 3,894 samples have tested negative.

As on Wednesday, there were 34 hotspots in the State. Out of the 14 districts, Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha and Idukki districts have no Covid-19 patients as on Tuesday.

State prefers non-AC trains

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister requested the Railways for stoppages at all major stations in the state for the special Rajdhani trains as per the stops permitted for the regular Rajdhani Express trains.

“At the same time, we asked them to avoid stoppages in other States to prevent any risk of exposure to passengers and also run the trains non-stop till it enters the State,” he said. The State prefers non-AC trains since fully AC coaches could aid the spread of the virus.

Elaborate testing arrangements are being set up at the railway stations. After booking tickets, passengers should register their details on the Covid Jagratha portal and apply for entry pass. Passengers will be put under mandatory 14-day home quarantine. Those who don’t have the pass will be moved to institutional quarantine centres from the railway station itself.

DIG A Akbar has been appointed to oversee the security checking of those arriving by trains and officers of SP rank have been appointed as Special Officers at all major railway stations.

Published on May 13, 2020

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