27/05/2020 1:53 PM IST | Updated 27/05/2020 2:36 PM IST

Kerala On Verge Of Community Transmission, Says CM Amid Tussle With Railways

With 963 COVID-19 cases confirmed, Kerala now has 412 patients under treatment and over one lakh under observation.

People wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus line up outside a government ration shop in Kochi, Kerala, May 20, 2020. 

After the biggest single day spike in coronavirus cases, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday warned that the state risks sliding into community transmission and losing all its gains if people under observation fail to follow health guidelines. Sixty seven people tested positive on Tuesday, the biggest single spike on a single day in the state.

With 963 COVID-19 cases confirmed, Kerala now has 412 patients under treatment and over one lakh under observation.

Risk of sliding into community transmission: CM

At the press conference on Tuesday, Pinarayi warned: “As of now, we have not reported community spread. But if we don’t follow the precautions properly, we will soon have it here in Kerala. We are on verge of community spread. Those coming from red zones can be potential carriers and they should themselves ensure to be under room quarantine.”

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The CM asked people to adhere to the health department’s instructions.

“At one point of time we had only 16 Covid patients under treatment, but now we have 415.Those coming to Kerala from red zones or containment areas must be careful and strictly follow the directions on home quarantine in order to contain the spread of the virus,” Pinarayi said.

He also said the state would face immense difficulty if all Keralites in foreign countries and other states returned at the same time, as lakhs of Keralites are settled in various parts of the country and abroad.

Of the total positive cases on Tuesday, 27 came from abroad and 33 from other states, including Maharashtra 15, Tamil Nadu nine and Gujarat five and 415 people are presently undergoing treatment, Pinarayi said 

Stringent action would be taken against those who arrive in Kerala without registering in the web portal and a heavy fine would be imposed on them, besides a 28 day institutional quarantine, the CM said 

CM, FM slam Railways for scheduling trains to Kerala without informing state

Pinarayi criticised Railway Minister Piyush Goyal for his alleged comments that the CM doesn’t care about the people of the state, after the state government cancelled an “unannounced train” to Kerala from Maharashtra.

Asked about the alleged comments, Vijayan described it as unfortunate and “totally unbecoming of a union minister.”

The chief minister said he had sent a letter to the Railway Minister requesting to inform the state government in advance about the special trains allotted and details of the passengers so as to arrange quarantine facilities at local level. He said despite the request, one more train was arranged from Maharashtra without informing Kerala about the passenger details and the state had to intervene to cancel it and schedule its journey to another date in order to obtain the passenger details.

“This might have prompted him to make the comments. One train came to the state from Mumbai, a red zone, unannounced but we managed to accommodate the people. Those who come to the state must register with the web portal in order to arrange quarantine facility for them. Otherwise our (COVID-19) containment efforts would go in vain,” Vijayan said.

Finance minister Thomas Isaac also slammed Goyal.

“Certain arrangements are necessary to be made in the state when expats reach here. People are coming from areas where the spread of the disease is huge. Naturally, the number of patients here will increase.So far 72 cases have been reported among those who returned from Maharashtra, 71 from Tamil Nadu and 35 from Karnataka. We need to receive them with care and no one will be excluded,” Pinarayi said.

Paid quarantine

Pinarayi said on Tuesday announced that those coming from abroad would henceforth have to pay for seven day government quarantine facilities.

“Paid quarantine is for those who come from abroad. Lakhs of people want to come to Kerala. The state may not be able to handle all of them,” Vijayan said.

He also said there was no need to worry as there would be affordable quarantine facilities for everyone. The move has been criticised by the Opposition.

(With PTI inputs)

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