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Thiruvananthapuram, March 22, 2020
The nationwide shutdown -- Janata Curfew -- is near total in Kerala as people have decided to remain indoors on Sunday.
Kerala recorded the first coronavirus positive case in the country in January and till Saturday the total number of positive cases had touched 49 while more than 52,000 are under observation in homes and hospitals, which includes even foreign nationals.
Barring media professionals, there were very few people seen or moving around in the streets. Those who were seen were either going to the house of a grieving family or seriously ill people.
Acting tough, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday night had said that if people fail to realise the ill-effects of roaming around without a reason, the government will be forced to take action -- be it a religious organisation or anyone who fails to understand the gravity of the situation.
In the state capital, such a quiet day has not been witnessed in recent years, as even the otherwise busy East Fort, the heart of the city with a big market, looked totally deserted.
State Minister for Devasoms, Kadakampally Surendran who hails from the state capital, was adhering to the directives of Vijayan who had given a call to see that, while being indoors, people should use the time to clean up their house and outdoors.
"Things have reached a phase where if the society fails to act, then it would be tough. Hence if need be, the state government will now act very strongly against those who fail to realise the need to behave," said Surendran.
Consequent to the guidelines, while some Churches had earlier decided to hold the Sunday mass before the curfew begins, realising the seriousness, cancelled it.
While in some Churches the prayers were held only with the priest engaged in the prayer sessions, most of them opted to have the online prayer session for the benefit of the laity, who were able to see the mass, live.
Superstar Mohanlal expressed worries that not many people have taken the need to be cautious against coronavirus, but he is holed up at his residence in Chennai.
At the otherwise busy commercial capital at Kochi, everything has come to a standstill and not even wayside tea shops are open.
Incidentally, the same situation prevails in the rest of the state with no activity taking place anywhere.
And Vijayan made it clear that the routine late evening review meeting to take stock of COVID-19 with officials and the media briefing after that will not happen on Sunday.
Fear is the key, which has now dawned on the civil society in the state to observe a near total shutdown to help reduce the spread of the virus.