File photo of people wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus outside a hospital in Thrissur, Kerala.
File photo of people wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus outside a hospital in Thrissur, Kerala. |IANS

Coronavirus: Six new cases reported in Kerala


Thiruvananthapuram, March 10, 2020

Six more persons have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Kerala, taking the total number of active cases in the state to 12.

"The cabinet held a meeting and we had a brief of what's 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," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told media persons here today.

"We have also decided to see that all the government functions in the state for the month of March are 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," he said.

"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 added.

The worst affected districts include Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kottayam and a good number of suspected cases are waiting for test results, which are expected latest by tomorrow.

State Health Minister K. K. Shailaja told the media that the six fresh cases includes the aged parents of the couple who arrived from Italy along with their son last week and residing at Pathanamthitta, who turned 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," said Shailaja.

The other five positive patients (three from Italy and their close relatives who are their neighbours) are at the Pathanamthitta district hospital and a three-year-old child is at Kochi.

Twenty patients are in isolation at Pathanamthitta, including a two-year-old child, while about a dozen are at Kochi, besides eight at Kollam and a few others at Kottayam and the tests results of these people are expected tomorrow evening.

On Monday night, a person in isolation ran away in Pathanamthitta. However, 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 be proceeded against under the Public Health Act and action would be taken.

"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 of the 75 private buses , only 45 have operated, 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 X, XI and XII 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 crackdown 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 for playing foul in the social media.