Updated: May 13, 2020 2:37:09 pm
The third wave of infections in Kerala has ostensibly begun, with more people arriving from neighbouring states and abroad testing positive for coronavirus. On Tuesday, four of the five persons who were detected with the virus in the state in the last 24 hours had recently flown in from the Gulf countries on board the Vande Bharat repatriation flights. Of the 32 active cases in the state, 23 persons have travel history from neighbouring states or from abroad.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, at his daily press briefing in Thiruvananthapuram, sounded a note of caution in his opening remarks: “The spread of the disease has touched a new level. This is the time when we have to maintain extreme caution. The situation in front of us is filled with challenges. If we compromise with our alertness, the situation could become very bad. In the coming days, more people are set to arrive from other states and from abroad.”
— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) May 12, 2020
As of Tuesday, 33,116 persons have travelled into Kerala from other states, whereas another 1,406 flew in from other countries. Additionally, 833 persons have travelled by sea, from Maldives and Lakshwadeep. In the coming days, more flights from the Middle East are set to arrive as part of the Vande Bharat mission. Railways has also decided to restart operations by charting a tri-weekly service from New Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram and back, with stops in Kozhikode and Ernakulam. Follow coronavirus Live Updates
‘Follow room quarantine’
With home quarantine seen as a big success in its previous two waves, with a majority of people complying with the government’s directions, Kerala is set to repeat the same experiment, with greater calibration. This time, local police officers would be roped in to ensure compliance of quarantine methods. Also, finessing the strategy further, the chief minister advocated a policy of ‘room quarantine’ where the person isolates himself/herself in a room for a period of 14 days, with minimal contact with his family members. This is especially critical in households with elderly persons and those with co-morbidities.
Those who cannot follow home quarantine will be shifted to institutional facilities that have been set up across all 14 districts. With the exception of pregnant women, elderly persons and children, all those arriving from abroad are being put in institutional care. Those found symptomatic at check-points on highways and airports are directly referred to hospitals and corona-care centres for further tests.
‘Trains must be given Rajdhani-stops in Kerala’
The chief minister said the state has requested the Railways to allow halts, that Rajdhani trains enjoy, to trains that it plans to run starting Tuesday. At present, the New Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram-New Delhi tri-weekly service, slated to begin Wednesday, has stops only in Kozhikode and Ernakulam. This will mean that passengers hailing from other districts will have to arrange travel to their home districts after alighting from the train. For example, a person from Kasaragod district will have to alight at Kozhikode and travel back 180 kms. The regular Rajdhani to Thiruvananthapuram has eight scheduled halts in the state.
Intra-district buses and autorickshaws with limitations
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Kerala has taken the stand that bus services within a city or district limit can be allowed going forward with social distancing measures in places. Autorickshaw drivers, whose incomes have nosedived since mid-March, can also operate services with reasonable restrictions. Metro services in cities that are not red zones can be initiated. These are among the suggestions Kerala has put forward in the video-conference with the prime minister on Monday. It has to now wait for the response from the Home Ministry.
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