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Kerala seeks central aid to fight coronavirus as two men under observation fly to Saudi Arabia

2500 people have now been put under observation in Kerala amid the coronavirus scare

Updated: Feb 04, 2020 18:09 IST

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times Thiruvananthapuram

Medical staff, wearing protective suits, hold medical waste as they exit the Special Isolation Ward set up to provide treatment to novel coronavirus patients at Kochi Medical college, in Kerala on Tuesday. (PTI)

A day after the Kerala government declared the coronavirus outbreak a state calamity, it sought immediate central assistance on Tuesday to tide over the crisis even as more people were placed under observation.

The state sounded an emergency on Monday after the third patient tested positive for coronavirus in Kasaragode in north Kerala. All three patients have lower respiratory infection and they are responding to symptomatic treatment well, said the state health ministry. The total number of people under observation rose to 2500 and 80 have been admitted to various hospitals, it said.

“We want the Union Government to release more funds to meet the emergency. Proper surveillance and isolation involve a lot of expenditure. The union health minister has assured us all help. We expect urgent assistance,” said state health minister K K Shailaja. The ‘emergency’ status will help the government to allot more funds to preventive measures and police will also get additional powers to deal with truant China-returnees who dodge health authorities and rumour mongers, said officials.

But despite a high alert and increased surveillance two men who came from China, left for Saudi Arabia on Monday without informing health authorities in Kozhikkode. “We have identified them and efforts are on to bring them back,” said Kozhikkode district medical officer Dr V Jayashree.

“At least 70 per cent of the returnees report on their own. But some skip thinking they can approach hospitals once they develop some symptoms. Since majority of the returnees are medical students they understand the gravity and co-operate fully. At times their relatives argue and we convince them,” said Dr Satheesan P V, district programme manager of Thrissur.

Health minister Shailaja had already warned those who dodge authorities and warned such attitude will be treated as crime.

Besides opening more isolation wards, the government has also started training doctors and paramedical staff to meet the emergency. Though the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended 14 days isolation the state has raised the bar to 28 days to weed out any possibility. Health officials said they are using the experience gained while fighting the nipah virus outbreak two years ago, to fight coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Kerala’s tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said in the assembly that tourism industry has been badly hit after detection of coronavirus positive cases in the state. “This is another blow to tourism industry. Came out of two consecutive floods there were good bookings this time. But many hotels now say they are getting mass cancellations,” he lamented


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