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Thiruvananthapuram, March 10, 2020
Kerala on Tuesday reported another eight coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, including the parents of a three-year-old who had earlier tested positive earlier, and the state announced a number of new measures including closure of all schools for this month.
State Health Minister K. K. Shailaja on Tuesday night said that two more new cases of coronavirus patients tested positive taking the total number of cases in Kerala to 14.
She said that the boy, who came with his parents from Italy and was admitted in a hospital at Kochi, had tested positive earlier, and on Tuesday, the parents also tested positive.
"All the three have already been isolated. There need be no worries or panic as we are doing our best. All what needs to be done, is everyone should just follow the health advisories that comes out daily," said Shailaja.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said six more cases turned positive, taking the total to 12.
"The cabinet held a meeting and we had a briefing of what is happening from various district health officials. We have decided to close down all educational institutions in the state for the month of March. But all the examinations will be held as normal. There will be no examination for classes 1 to 7, while the others will have examinations as usual," he told the media here.
"We have also decided to see that all the government functions in the state for the month of March be cancelled. In the best interests of all, movie halls and dramas should not function. Marriages that are fixed should be held in a low profile manner, likewise there should be no gala festivities that are associated with all religious establishments," added Vijayan.
"There need be no reason for worries as all that is needed is to be cautious and everyone should behave in a responsible manner. At the moment, 1,116 people are under observation. Just as we managed this when three cases were reported before, we will be able to manage this time also," he said.
The worst-affected districts include Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kottayam and a good number of suspected cases are waiting for results, which are expected latest by Wednesday.
Shailaja earlier in the day told the media that the fresh six cases include the aged parents at Pathanamthitta of the three members of a family who arrived from Italy and were found COVID-19 positive early this week.
"Two others, are those who accompanied the three from Kochi airport to their home at Pathanamthitta. The remaining two are those who had close contacts with the three, after they arrived from Italy," she said.
The other five positive patients (three from Italy and their close relatives who are their neighbours) are at the Pathanamthitta district hospital and the three-year-old is at Kochi.
As many as 20 patients are in isolation at Pathanamthitta, including a two-year-old child, while about a dozen are at Kochi, eight at Kollam and a few others at Kottayam and the tests results of these people are expected by Wednesdat evening.
On Monday night, a person in isolation ran away in Pathanamthitta, but authorities traced him and brought him back to the district hospital. Now a police guard has been posted there.
Pathanamthitta District Collector P. B. Nooh said that from now on people who do not follow the guidelines of the state government, will face action under the Public Health Act.
"We have so far identified 733 people who have had primary and secondary contacts with the five patients who are positive. And today my job is to locate the people who came under contact of the person, who jumped out from the hospital. Such irresponsible behaviour won't be tolerated anymore," said a peeved Nooh, who has been working day in and out for the past three days.
At Pathanamthitta, especially in places like Ranni, the streets wore a deserted look and, at the main bus station, only 45 of the 75 private buses were operating on Tuesday morning.
"There is hardly anyone coming to shops and we opened today because there is no point sitting at home," said a shopkeeper at Pathanamthitta.
The Pathanamthitta district court has been closed for regular cases. Only urgent cases are being taken up for the week.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, around 13 lakh students studying in Class 10, 11 and 12 across the state have their board examinations and at Pathanamthitta, two students who had direct contact with one of the positive patients have been given a separate classroom to write their board examination.
State Police chief Loknath Behra has directed a crack down on misuse of social media in connection with coronavirus. Even those who forward false messages would be dealt with, he said, and based on this directive, four cases have been registered.