As the number of persons infected with COVID-19 (coronavirus) increases across the country, the Kerala Government has stepped in with a campaign titled ‘Break the Chain’ to spread awareness among the public about the importance of public and personal hygiene. The campaign encourages hand sanitising in order to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.
“There are chances of the virus being spread through our hands. Sanitising our hands will break the chain and prevent the spread of the virus. We must use hand sanitizers or wash hands with soap and maintain personal hygiene. We need to spread awareness on hand hygiene campaign," Kerala’s Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said.
The campaign was launched in the wake of a second wave of infections after a family carrying the virus returned from Italy. With an increasing number of people returning from virus affected countries, the state’s health department has already beefed up measures to contain the virus from spreading. The ‘Break the Chain’ campaign is part of measures being taken to stop the virus from spreading further.
Alternative Ways of Making Masks and Sanitizers
An increasing sense of fear among the public is resulting in local markets witnessing a scarcity of masks and hand sanitisers. The Government has intervened in the matter and on Saturday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the tailoring units of prisons had been directed to sew face masks.
"It has commenced on a war footing basis," he tweeted. The first batch of masks produced by the Central Prison in Thiruvananthapuram has already been handed to officials of the health department. Aside from the Government, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) has also taken up the matter. DYFI activists have handed over such masks to various hospitals including the Government Medical College at Thrissur.
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Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals (KSDP), a public sector undertaking (PSU) in Alappuzha, has started producing hand sanitisers in order to tackle their low availability and high pricing.
An immediate target of one lakh bottles of sanitiser has been set for the PSU. The bottles are expected to be delivered to the Kerala Medical Services Corporation in ten days. Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan said that “these will be made available to the public at a fraction of the price charged by private companies.”
A 500 ml bottle of sanitizer from KSDP costs Rs 125 while the market value of 100 ml hand sanitisers from private companies is between Rs 150 and Rs 200.
Strict Measures for Surveillance
On Sunday, two people, including a U.K. national, tested positive for coronavirus in Kerala, taking the total number of those affected to 21 in the state. Aside from the UK national, who was admitted to the Kalamassery Medical College after being offloaded from a flight to Dubai, a doctor who returned from Spain has also been admitted to the isolation ward at medical college hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.
“With the two new cases, the total number of infected persons has gone up to 21. All of them are stable. The Italian tourist from Munnar has been hospitalised at Ernakulam and a doctor who reached the state from abroad after finishing studies, is at Thiruvananthapuram. We expect the flow of foreigners to the state to reduce in the coming days,” K.K. Shailaja told reporters.
She said the state expects “our brothers who are working abroad for their livelihood” to return to Kerala and added that the department was gearing up to receive them.
The minister said there were 10,994 people under observation across Kerala and 289 of them have been lodged in isolation wards in various hospitals. She added that 10,655 people are under home quarantine.
A total of 2,147 blood samples had been sent for testing and 1,514 results turned out to be negative. The minister said health volunteers and police would inspect those who are in home quarantine to ensure that they remain under isolation.
Earlier in the day, a UK resident was offloaded from a Dubai flight after the State Government informed airport authorities that he had tested positive. He, along with 18 others from his tourist group, were stopped at Kochi airport and not allowed to fly to Dubai after the man allegedly jumped quarantine in the hill resort town of Munnar, officials said.
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The foreigner, who tested positive, and his wife have been admitted to an isolation facility at a government hospital while the other 17 were sent to a hotel for quarantine after being offloaded from the flight, State Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar told reporters at the airport.
The flight carrying 270 passengers left for Dubai at 12.47 PM after the 20 passengers were offloaded, an airport spokesman confirmed.
The officials closed down the resort, quarantined its employees, and steps were taken to identify those who came in contact with the tourists in the state, officials said.
Shailaja dismissed the charge of lapses on the part of the authorities. The patient had travelled all the way to Kochi airport from Munnar, a distance of over 100 kilometers.
“There are certain protocols in confirming the positive cases. We had earlier itself instructed the resorts not to leave the foreign guests out of the resort. But the tourists left without informing the health officials. The Chief Minister has already sought a report on the matter,” she said.
She said the incident was an “experience that the state has not faced before” and the government was dealing with an unprecedented situation.
Meanwhile, with an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, the Kerala government on Sunday launched intensified medical check ups at 24 spots bordering Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for people entering the state by rail and road.
A team headed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) began the checking of vehicles coming into the state. The National Health Mission State Mission Director (SMD) Rathan Kelkar told reporters that the response of the people toward the call for volunteers was “overwhelming”.
“We needed additional volunteers for ensuring the medical checkups of passengers coming through the border. We have received many requests and will provide them appropriate training,” Khelkar said.
With 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the state has enrolled volunteers to assist the health department after special training by officials.
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With Inputs from PTI