Kerala records 39 new COVID cases, prepares to launch rapid testing

Published : March 27, 2020 21:48 IST

At Kannur railway station, Health Department officials taking the temperature of a passenger as part of the protocol for testing for coronavirus. Photo: S.K. MOHAN

On a day when Kerala reported 39 new COVID-19 positive cases, the largest in a day so far, with 34 of them from Kasaragod district, the State government has decided to go for rapid testing to accelerate detection of the disease among the population.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the State needed more testing facilities and would go ahead with the steps needed for launching rapid tests as it expected to receive the necessary permission very soon.

The government is also considering using a drug from Cuba to fight the virus, which too needed the approval of the Drugs Controller of India. The government, the Chief Minister said, decided it should explore all possible methods to prevent the transmission of the disease.

He described the emerging situation, especially in Kasaragod district, as “very serious”. Of the 39 cases newly reported, 25 were among those who returned from Dubai. Two cases were reported in Kannur, and one each in Thrissur and Kollam, the only district which had so far not reported any positive cases. The new case in Kollam was also a person who came back from Dubai.

The Chief Minister reiterated that those who came from abroad or from other States and those who came in contact with them should follow government guidelines strictly. He expressed concern, and described the activities and travel history of some people who had tested positive in the State as “astonishing”.

He also pointed out that a disturbing situation was emerging along areas in Kasaragod adjoining Karnataka. With limited medical facilities in Kasaragod, a large number of patients from the northern parts of the district who needed critical care, such as dialysis on a daily basis, depended on hospitals in Mangalore and other centres in Karnataka. But Karnataka is closing down all roads leading to the State from Kasaragod, blocking them with sand and gravel, in one instance even encroaching into Kerala territory. “This is against the Central government’s directives. What will happen in an extreme emergency situation when both States need to use these roads? We have brought it to the notice of the Prime Minister. The Karnataka Chief Secretary has been informed and has promised to lift the blockade, but such an approach was best avoided.” he said.

For the first time since the COVID-19 crisis began, the State government today also called for donations to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, asking people to contribute “as much as they possibly can at this time of extreme crisis”.

The total number of patients under treatment for COVID-19 in the State rose to 164 on March 27, with 1,10,299 under quarantine, 616 of them in hospitals.

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