Kerala imposes state-wide lock down to curb spread of coronavirus

People wear masks outside an isolation ward set up to treat novel coronavirus patients at the Kochi Medical College. (Photo: PTI)
Kerala closed its borders, suspended public and private buses and shut shops from Monday night until March 31, locking down the state to spread of the coronavirus. 

Only essential services would be allowed, said the state government after detecting 28 new coronavirus cases. As many as 91 patients are being treated in the state now.

"The State is entering into an unprecedented situation and we are announcing lock down across the State till March 31. Will have a look at the situation after that. All essential materials including medicines will be made available. State borders will be closed, public transport or private buses will be stopped. However, private vehicles will be allowed and petrol pumps, LPG distribution and all hospitals will be working. Government offices will operate after ensuring necessary protection," said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Out of the 28 cases confirmed today, 25 are individuals who have arrived from Dubai. Out of the total, 19 are from Kasaragod district, where the government has imposed various restrictions including shutting down the government offices, last week. A total of 64,320 people are under observiation, of which 63,937 are in houses and 383 are in hospitals. Today 122 patients were admitted in hospitals.

Those who were tested positive are mostly those who came down from other parts of the world and those who were in direct contact with them.

The government’s focus is on Kasaragod district, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Kerala. Vijayan warned people will be arrested and penalized if they step out in public unnecessarily. In the district, shops will be operating from 11 am to 5 pm. Banks will be functioning till 2 pm.

There is no concerns regarding the availability of medicines or hospital facilities and the government has identified more means to overcome such situation. However, the efforts are to control the situation before going to such an extend, said Vijayan.

The government is tightening the controls to restrict further spreading of the disease. Water, electricity, telecom, and other essential things will be provided without any hindrance. District collectors will take necessary steps to ensure this. Camps will be created for migrant workers who have any job now. 

Government will seek the help of telecom companies to track the mobile devices of those who are under observation to know whether they are moving out of their tower area. In each districts, separate Covid 19 hospitals will be set up by the Health Department in collaboration with the district administration.

State government will also communicate with the Reserve Bank of India on the necessity to sanitize currency notes and coins. Recovery of loans by small micro-finance and private firms will be suspended for two months. Medical shops and those which sells essential materials will be open from 7 am to 5 pm. Regional administration can take measures like declaring Section 144 to avoid people gathering together in large numbers.

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