A high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in state capital Thiruvananthapuram to discuss the possibility of placing districts, affected by Covid-19 infection, under lock-down ended here. An official notification on the decisions taken during the meeting is awaited Monday evening after the chief minister holds a video-conference meeting with trader organisations.
Kerala, with 64 active cases, has the second-highest number of Covid-19 positive patients in the country. In just three days, the state has reported 39 cases, raising fears among the public and the medical community.
An advisory was sent by the Centre Sunday to chief secretaries of states asking to impose complete lock-down on 75 districts in the country, which have reported Covid-19 cases, in a bid to suspend movement of the public and break the chain of community transmission. Among the districts are ten in the state – Kasaragod, Kannur, Malappuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Idukki, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram. The Kerala chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has gone a step ahead, advising the government to impose a state-wide lock-down.
According to television reports, the government is in favour of imposing a partial clampdown on Ernakulam, Kannur and Pathanamthitta districts while heightening restrictions in other districts. A decision on shutting down bars in the state is also awaited.
At present, only one district, Kasaragod in the north, which has reported 19 out of the 64 cases, has been shut down with essential services operating. Additionally, section 144 has been imposed in Kozhikode district, banning the assembly of more than five persons.
Till Sunday, the state government has been pushing for stern restrictions in the movement of the public in the affected districts, rather than a total lock-down. Though he admitted that the situation in Kasaragod was serious and required cooperation of the public with health authorities there, the CM has said multiple times that there was no need for panic in other districts. So far, the government has ruled out any evidence of community transmission in the state as all the positive cases have history of travel to the affected countries. The state is also keeping a rigorous check on nearly 60,000 people who have been brought under home quarantine.
Panic-buying in shops, supermarkets
Meanwhile, just a day after the state joined the call of prime minister Narendra Modi to stay indoors for 14 hours as part of the ‘janata curfew’, there has been panic-buying at several supermarkets and retail stores in the state. In major cities like Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, long lines of customers were seen outside supermarkets where they proceeded to wipe the shelves clean, fearing shortage in essential products. This is despite the chief minister’s promise that all essential services will continue to be available to consumers.
Police file cases against those breaking quarantine, advisories
The Kerala Police continued to take action against those breaking advisories of the government in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic. Two natives of Malappuram district, who hid their travel history from abroad and were secretly staying in a homestay in Wayanad’s Meppadi, have been booked. Also, a case has been booked against a native of Elathur in Kozhikode district for organising a weeding with large groups of people despite government restrictions.
A Christian priest, Pauly Padayattil, was arrested from Chalakudy in Thrissur district for organising a Mass in the presence of at least 100 persons.
Kerala HC shuts down till April 8
A holiday has been declared for the judges, lawyers and other staff of the Kerala High Court till April 8. Only urgent matters such as habeas corpus petitions, sentence suspension, custody, bail and anticipatory bail will be heard twice a week, Thursdays and Fridays, till April 8. A formal notification is yet to arrive.
Long queues outside liquor retail outlets
The state government’s repeated pleas for social distancing have had absolutely no impact on tipplers who formed long queues outside retail outlets of the liquor monopoly BEVCO. In previous days, there were visuals of people maintaining a gap between each other as they stood in the line to buy their favourite drink. But on Monday, television networks beamed visuals of people cramming into long queues outside liquor outlets in Kozhikode and Vadakara. At several places, police officers had to resort to lathi-charging to disperse them.
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