Kerala to tighten norms as returning immigrants threaten to foil state’s Covid-19 track record
Kerala which is maintaining a successful disease-management protocol has decided to strengthen its tracing and quarantine norms as immigrants from the Middle-East and people stranded in other parts of the country started flocking to the state in large numbers.
Among the Gulf returnees, seven people had tested positive so far and more flights are expected in the coming days. On Monday, the state reported seven new Covid-19 cases, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office said. Out of 7, four are people who returned from Mumbai, one from Chennai and another returned from Kuwait (earlier six others who returned from the middle-eastern countries had tested positive). Out of 519 Covid-19 positive cases, 489 have recovered and 27 active cases are there, his office said.
With train services expected to resume in a couple of days the state is expecting more cases. It has tweaked its policies and has given strict instructions to district administrations to enforce track, trace and treat protocol ruthlessly. People with minor symptoms or those who come from red zones will have to undergo strict protocols to contain a possible third bout of infection, said health officials.
Kerala is the first state to have reported a coronavirus case in the country in January, when a Wuhan-returned medical student had tested positive.
The second stage of infection occurred in the first week of March when some super spreaders returned from foreign countries and transmitted the disease to many others.
The state pressed the emergency button as the exodus of expatriates from middle-eastern countries and people from other states began. People coming from red zones will have to undergo mandatory 14-day home quarantine and if they show slight symptoms they will be moved to hospitals and PCR tests will have to be done, said health ministry officials.
In each area a nodal officer will be appointed for a section of people under quarantine and it is his/her duty to monitor them with the help of other health officials regularly. Local police officers will have to help him.
Though the state was vociferous on stranded immigrants there is a complaint that it did not do much to students and others stranded in other parts of the country-- after it became a big issue it was forced to write to the Railways and north Indian states to help run special trains for them. The opposition and rights activists alleged that it was a “deliberate ploy to keep the state records intact”.
“Around 350 special trains were run in the country and not a single one came to the state. Sad that in building up a public relations exercise the CM conveniently has forgotten his own people stranded in many parts of the country,” said Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
He said hundreds of people were stranded along state borders after the government insisted on passes from the originating destination. But the ruling CPI(M) said the opposition was playing “cheap politics” during the pandemic.