The decision was announced by health minister KK Shailaja at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram after a meeting of the apex committee of state disaster management authority (SDMA) chaired by chief secretary Tom Jose. The decision has been taken with the aim of effectively containing the outbreak, especially since those who have arrived from the outbreak epicentre of Wuhan in China are currently scattered across the 14 districts of the state in house quarantine.
“We are not waiting anymore for positive cases to come. We will be prepared to take containment action and will not have lag time…with this, our multi pronged approach to contain the epidemic has been strengthened many folds,” health secretary Rajan Khobragade told reporters.
Health officers who went on leave have been asked to return to work. The state rapid response team has been expanded with the formation of 18 committees which will work in tandem. Officers in 14 districts will assist with supportive supervision and troubleshooting.
Currently, three medical students from Wuhan are admitted to isolation wards at hospitals in Kasaragod, Thrissur and Alappuzha districts. They are all reported to be in stable condition.
A total of 2239 travellers from virus-affected countries have been identified and placed under surveillance out of which 2155 are under home quarantine and 84 admitted in select isolation facilities. A total of 140 samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune out of which 46 came back negative. A minimum of two hospitals with isolation ward facilities have been identified in each district.
The health minister said the public must exercise caution and vigilance and adhere to public advisories put out by the government. At the same time, those who have arrived from the virus affected countries must remain under strict home isolation for 28 days from the date of arrival in India, irrespective of whether they exhibit symptoms.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka health and family welfare department has put four districts bordering Kerala on high alert.
The health department said in a media bulletin, “As there are two positive cases in Kerala, the border districts of Mangaluru, Kodagu, Chamrajnagar and Mysore are on high alert and any suspected are advised to report immediately to State Surveillance Unit (SSU) Karnataka.
The novel coronavirus infection that first broke out in Wuhan, China, has spread to 25 countries so far. At least 361 deaths and 17,205 cases of the virus have been reported from China. The Philippines Sunday reported the first death reported outside China, news agency AFP had reported. Meanwhile, experts suggested that the spread of the virus is now likely to become a pandemic that circles the globe, NYT reported. A pandemic is an ongoing epidemic— on two or more continents — may well have global consequences, despite the extraordinary travel restrictions and quarantines now imposed by China and other countries.
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