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Thiruvananthapuram, March 21, 2020
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Saturday the state has reported 12 more cases of coronavirus, taking the count of active cases to 49. The figure does not include three who were positive but are now cured.
He said there are 52,785 people under observation at their homes in the state as on Saturday and 228 people are in various hospitals of the state.
"Of the 12 people who tested positive for the virus, six came from Kasargode and three each from Kannur and Ernakulam districts. All of them had returned from West Asia," said Vijayan.
The Chief Minister said the response of religious leaders in the state to help the government in combating COVID-19 was "excellent."
"They have ensured that there are no public rituals. The government wants all religious bodies to follow laws and directives. Any violation will entail strong action," said Vijayan.
The CM said the government has decided to open new coronavirus care centres. "This will enable us to shift aged people and those who have none to look after them. We will also ensure that crowding is avoided even at homes," said Vijayan.
Meanwhile, Kerala's borders with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been closed for regular travellers, but goods carriers are allowed.
Allaying fears about shortage of essential items, the Chief Minister said the government has enough stocks. "All shops and establishments will remain open. Our general policy is that normal life should go on, but there should be more caution," said Vijayan.
In another step, the state government on Saturday decided to stop the sales of lottery tickets till March 31.
Also, liquor outlets will be closed on Sunday as part of the "Janata Curfew" called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It was also decided from next week to reduce the outpatient time at all state-run hospitals from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
Metro operations in Kochi would be curtailed from Monday.
In a related development, following visiting foreign tourists getting unwelcome reactions from locals, the Kochi Police Commissionerate launched a 'Foreigners Outreach Cell'.
All foreign nationals who want any assistance can send text, audio or video message on FB, Instagram, Twitter and Website links of Police Commissionerate Kochi or send a WhatsApp message to 8590202060.
As soon as a message reaches the police, an official will get in touch with the person, officials said.