Kerala Declares State Calamity After Three Test Positive For Coronavirus
Kerala has declared a 'state calamity' after three patients tested positive for coronavirus in the last five days.
The state health minister KK Shailaja announced the decision at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram following a meeting of the apex committee of state disaster management authority (SDMA), hours after the third positive case was confirmed in Kasargod.
She said that the decision was taken on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's recommendation to take adequate measures to control the epidemic effectively.
"The announcement is not meant to scare people. It is to help take proactive steps to intensify the steps to contain the spread of the virus," the health minister said.
The public has been advised to exercise caution and adhere to health advisories put out by the government. The minister added that those who arrived from affected countries must remain under strict home isolation for 28 days from the date of arrival in India, whether they exhibit symptoms or not.
The minister said that there have been several cases where people who returned from China did not report to the authorities and added that this was 'dangerous.'
"It is from Kerala that the maximum number of students go to Wuhan and hence we have to go forward very cautiously as the density of population here is high and so we have decided to set 28 days as the quarantine period," Shailaja added.
"We are not waiting anymore for positive cases to come. We will be prepared to take containment action and will not have a lag time," health secretary Rajan Khobragade told media.
The three students from Wuhan who tested positive for the virus are admitted to isolation wards at hospitals in Kasaragod, Thrissur and Alappuzha districts. The condition of all three is stable.
Special control rooms have been opened in all 14 districts in the state. The health department has also assigned 178 counsellors as part of its "psycho-social service" to talk to those under observation and to their families.
At present, 2239 travellers from virus-affected countries have been identified and placed under surveillance in the state. Of this, 2155 are under home quarantine and 84 admitted in select isolation facilities.
A total of 140 samples have been sent for testing from the southern state, of which 46 are negative. The rest of the results are awaited.
Meanwhile, in the backdrop of the positive cases of the virus in Kerala, the Karnataka health and family welfare department has put four border districts - Mangaluru, Kodagu, Chamarajanagar and Mysuru - on high alert.
As of Monday, over 20,438 confirmed cases and 425 deaths have been reported from China, the epicentre of coronavirus. Outside China, at least 151 cases in 23 other countries have been registered. Meanwhile, Hong Kong reported its first death from the virus on Tuesday.