With eight more people testing positive for coronavirus in Kerala on Tuesday (March 10), the total number of infected people now under treatment touched 14, as the state government decided to impose severe restrictions, including the closure of educational institutions and cinema theatres till month end to halt its further spread.
The fresh cases include parents of the three-year-old boy, who tested positive for COVID-19 in Kochi on Monday (March 9) on the family’s return from Italy. “They have also tested positive for the virus,” Health Minister K K Shailaja told reporters tonight. The condition of all the three are “stable”, she said.
Efforts are on to trace all those who had come in touch with the family, the minister added.
Details are being collected about passengers who had travelled on the flight they took from Italy. Earlier in the day, six positive cases were reported from the state.
They are friends and relatives of an Italy-returned couple and their son who had on Saturday (March 7) 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 the European nation last month along with their 24-year-old son, have also tested positive and they are presently under intensive care at the Kottayam medical college hospital.
“There was a slight variation in the ECG of one of the patients. Now it has stabilised. Our effort is to save their lives,” the minister said.
Kerala has got sanction from the central government to test samples at the Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode medical college hospitals, she said.
At least 1,495 people are under observation — 1,236 under home quarantine and 259 in isolation wards at various hospitals. So far, 980 samples have been sent for testing, of which 815 samples turned out negative, according to sources.
The affected include three who had come from Italy and eight of their close relatives and friends who came in contact with them, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Kerala has been hit by the second round of coronavirus cases after the country’s first three positive cases in the state were successfully cured and discharged from hospitals last month.
Vijayan said schools and colleges and cinemas would remain closed in the state till March 31. “Temple and church festivals, which witnesses mass gatherings should be avoided, but rituals can be held in a low key manner,” Vijayan, who chaired a special cabinet meeting in the wake of fresh positive cases being reported, said.
The government also decided to impose severe restrictions in an effort to halt the spread of the virus.
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 the Standard Ten, 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.
As the hill temple of Sabarimala will reopen on March 13, monthly poojas can be held, but at this juncture, devotees should avoid darshans, Vijayan said.
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.
Marriage rituals can be held, but a massive gathering of people should be avoided. All government-related functions have been postponed including in which ministers participate.
Public Service Examinations have been postponed.
In all government offices, precautions will be taken against the spread of the virus and sanitisers would be made available at all places, the chief minister said.
Collectors have been instructed to provide families placed under observation with all essential materials they require, Vijayan said.
Biometric punching at the secretariat and all government offices and PSUs had been stopped till March 31. Private sector organisations should also take similar measures, the chief minister later said in a statement.
Meanwhile, students wearing masks appeared for the SSLC examination in Pathanamthitta district. Sanitisers had also been provided to them.
Two students, under observation for the virus, appeared for the exam in a separate room at their school. In Pathanamthitta, a man under observation for suspected coronavirus infection at the isolation ward of the district hospital fled, but was brought back within hours.
District collector P B Nooh said the man escaped from the general hospital, but was later tracked and brought back.