Coronavirus: Report or face action, Kerala warns China-returned

Government calls for all-hands-on-deck to break chain of contact, puts 2,239 people under observation

Indian nationals airlifted from coronavirus-hit Hubei province of China's Wuhan, at a quarantine facility in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

The Kerala government which on Monday (February 3) declared a ‘state calamity’ after the state reported three cases of novel coronavirus in a week’s time, has asserted that the government will initiate criminal proceedings against those who have not reported themselves before health officials after returning from China.

Clarifying the same in an interview with Hindustan Times, Kerala health minister KK Shailaja said the government expects the complete cooperation of everyone to check the secondary infection. “We need cooperation of all to tide over the crisis. We should be more alert to check the secondary infection. Calamity is declared to create enough awareness and take more proactive steps to contain the virus,” she told HT.

Also read: Coronavirus toll in China at 425 as Hong Kong reports first death

Around 2,239 people are under observation in the state of which 84 have been admitted to various hospitals. The rest are being observed at homes. The state has kept 28 isolation wards ready to accommodate more people.

The outbreak so far has claimed almost 425 lives in China, and left 20,000 infected.

The three patients affected by coronavirus in Kerala are students who had recently returned from Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic, in China. They have been admitted to three different hospitals in the state’s Kasargod, Thrissur and Alappuzha districts.

Principal secretary of Kerala’s health department Rajan Khobragade told NDTV that while the health minister herself is leading the Rapid Response Team in Thiruvanthapuram, all departments of the state are working in tandem to step up measures to contain the spread of the virus.

State health officials have sought the help of the civil aviation ministry and details of passengers who travelled with the three affected students from Wuhan before the screenings began at airports across the country.

With the main concern of the government being breaking the chain of contact, a special team of doctors and counsellors has been calling people under isolation and asking them to share details about the people they have come in contact with recently.

Also read: With 3 confirmed cases of coronavirus, Kerala declares ‘state calamity’

As part of contact tracing, those under isolation are being urged to recall the details of people they came in direct contact with and places they have visited. The health team has counselled more than 372 people so far.

“We call people, reassure them and give them a number that they can call back on anytime if they deal with anxiety, sleeplessness. This number is functional 24×7. We already had 105 counsellors posted in 10 districts affected by floods in the last two years. So this positioned us in a much better way to reach out to effected families for counselling”, NDTV quoted Dr Kiran, the nodal officer for mental health in the state as saying.

India recently evacuated its 600 nationals from China’s Wuhan. The evacuees have been quarantined at an isolation facility in Delhi and will be sent home after 14 days of their admission if they do not show symptoms of the disease.

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