Kerala is on high alert after 42 people from Italy were quarantined after arrival on Tuesday night. The state already has 14 patients infected with coronavirus and had nearly 1,500 people under observation.
According to Malayalam Manorama, this group of people was screened at the Cochin International Airport and moved to a taluk hospital in Aluva near Ernakulam. Meanwhile, ten Keralites who returned from Italy on Wednesday morning were moved to the isolation ward at Kalamassery Medical College in Ernakulam after they showed symptoms of fever and cough, Mathrubhumi reported.
A health ministry advisory that came into effect on 00:00 hours of March 10 said visa restrictions were in place for people coming to India travelling from or having visited Italy or South Korea.
Such passengers will now need to submit a certificate of having tested negative for coronavirus from a health authorities designated lab in their countries at the departure airport.
However, CM Pinarayi Vijayan strongly disagreed with the advisory and asked the central government to withdraw it, saying “How can we ever do such a thing to our own countrymen. Even if they have COVID-19 symptoms, can we to languish in a foreign country? This is primitive.”
"While there is no difference of opinion that enough safeguards should be taken so that the disease does not spread, undue hardships to Indians abroad wanting to come home in an hour of crisis is totally unwarranted. They can be tested on arrival and kept in quarantine if necessary. There are necessary facilities in our country," Vijayan said in a letter to Modi.
Eight more people tested positive for coronavirus in Kerala on Tuesday.
The state government decided to impose severe restrictions, including closure of educational institutions and cinema houses till month end to halt its further spread. All government related functions have been postponed including in which ministers participate.
At least 1,495 people are under observation―1236 under home quarantine and 259 in isolation wards at various hospitals.
The fresh cases reported on Tuesday include parents of the three-year-old boy, who tested positive for COVID-19 in Kochi on Monday on the family’s return from Italy. “They have also tested positive for the virus:, Health minister K K Shailaja told reporters. “The condition of all the three are stable.”
Efforts are on to trace all those who had come in touch with the family, the minister said. Details are being collected about passengers who had travelled in the flight they took from Italy.
The six others who tested positive on Tuesday are friends and relatives of an Italy-returned couple and their son who had on Saturday tested positive for the virus along with two other kin staying with them at their home in Pathanamthitta district.
The aged parents of the couple who returned from Italy last month along with their 24-year-old son, have also tested positive and are presently under intensive care at the Kottayam medical college hospital.
“There was slight variation in the ECG of one of the patients. Now it has stablised. Our effort is to save their lives,” the minister said.
Schools, theatres shut
Classes from I to VII standards of all schools― state, CBSE and ICSE will remain shut till March end and examinations which have begun will be put on hold.
Examinations for Tenth standard, Plus Two and vocational higher secondary, which began on Tuesday will however, continue.
Students who are under observation would be permitted to write examinations in a special room.
Madrasas, aganwadis, tuition classes and tutorials, will be closed till March 31 while cinema houses, drama theatres and art and cultural festivals should be avoided.
Public Service Examinations have been postponed.
Avoid Sabarimala darshan, CM says
As Sabarimala reopens on March 13, monthly poojas can be held, but devotees should avoid darshans at this time, Vijayan said on Tuesday.
Travancore Devaswom Board president N Vasu also said the rituals can be held inside the shrine. The board has appealed to devotees not to trek to the hill shrine for the monthly pooja darshan.
“The pilgrims will not be prevented from coming. But it is our appeal to them to desist from visiting the shrine due to the present circumstances,” he told reporters.
(With PTI inputs)