New Delhi: Kerala reported its first COVID-19 death on Saturday after a 69-year-old man being treated for the virus died at Ernakulam Medical College Hospital. According to the latest data from the ministry of health, the total death toll across the country due to Covid-19 is 19.
The man, hailing from Ernakulam, was admitted to the isolation ward on March 22 after his return from Dubai, the government hospital, said in a statement. He was admitted with symptoms of pneumonia but later tested positive for coronavirus, it said. He was also suffering from heart disease and high blood pressure and had undergone a bypass surgery earlier, the statement said.
So far, Kerala has reported a total of 164 cases, including 39 fresh cases on Friday, with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan describing the situation as "serious". Of the 39 cases, 34 are from the worst affected northernmost district of Kasaragod, two from Kannur and one each from Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kollam, Vijayan told reporters after a COVID-19 review meeting in Thiruvananthapuram.
With a positive case being reported from Kollam, all 14 districts in the state have been affected by the pandemic. The worst affected Kasaragod has 76 positive cases, the highest and most of the affected are Non-Resident Keralites from the Gulf. A total of 1,10,299 people are under surveillence and 616 are in isolation wards of various hospitals, Vijayan said.
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The Chief Minister said that a man from Idukki district who tested positive, was a public figure and had travelled across Kerala over the last few days and had even gone to the state Assembly, secretariat and met legislators, government officials and also to government offices and schools.
On the third day of the lockdown, 1,383 people were arrested for violations, 1,381 cases registered and 923 vehicles were seized, police said. Since Tuesday, 7,091 cases have been registered in Kerala.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Vijayan came down heavily on the action of Karnataka officials to block the border roads to Kerala, including at Kasaragod, by not just putting up barricades, but also depositing soil, saying this was not acceptable. He said the Chief Secretary discussed the matter with his Karnataka counterpart, who had agreed to remove the soil.
"The situation in Kasaragod is different now. They used to depend on Karnataka for everything. The nearest towns for them were in Karnataka and there were many who even used to visit Karnataka daily for dialysis and other medical procedures," Vijayan said. "Yes, we need to follow the directions of lockdown in the face of this pandemic. But, what will happen in case of an emergency? The Chief Secretary has discussed the matter with his counterpart and agreed to remove the soil. We brought the matter to the notice of the Prime Minister also."
Considering the serious situation in Kasaragod district, the government has decided to convert the Kasaragod central university into a COVID-19 treatment centre, he said. "All laboratory facilities are there, but we need permission from Indian Council of Medical Research for testing there. We are awaiting that. The Kasaragod medical college will also be converted into a COVID hospital," Vijayan said.
The Chief Minister also migrant labourers in Kerala would also be taken care of and they would be provided food and accommodation, besides soaps, masks and sanitisers.
It’s not just about human beings
The state has already started shelter homes for migrant workers and homeless people who have been living on streets along with community kitchens for those who are in need of food. The chief minister in his press meeting stressed the need of feeding stray dogs along with other birds and animals.
As the state is observing a total lockdown, large population of stray dogs are in dire straits and the local bodies should ensure that they get food, said chief minister.
"We all know the dangers if these stray dogs don''t get food and if it happens, then it will be bad for the society. So we have asked all local bodies in the state to ensure that they do the needful and provide food for them," said Vijayan.
“In the current context, food is not a question for just human beings. So, life of all birds and animals need to be considered when we think about hunger.”
IAS Officer suspended for fleeing Kerala while under observation
The state Government on Friday suspended IAS officer Anupam Mishra, who left the state violating instructions to remain under home quarantine after his trip abroad. An FIR had been registered against Mishra, the Kollam Sub-Collector, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, on the basis of a report from the health department about the violation. \
Chief Minister Vijayan told reporters that the officer had left without taking permission from the authorities. "That is not a right act. We have requested those under observation to strictly follow quarantine instructions. But when a responsible officer fled Kerala, it has brought disgrace to the state,” Vijayan said, adding that hence, "We have decided to suspend him.”
The young IAS officer had returned to the state on March 19 from his honeymoon abroad and had been asked to remain under observation. However, he left for his brother’s place in Bengaluru without informing anyone. Kollam Collector B Abdul Nasser said Mishra had returned to Kerala on March 19 from his Malaysia-Singapore trip and was advised to remain under quarantine, as per the protocol for overseas returnees in the backdrop of coronavirus outbreak.
Though he underwent a medical examination, he did not show any symptoms. His personal staff, including a gunman, has also been kept under observation. When the Collector got in touch with him, Mishra informed him that he was in Bengaluru. However, police said Mishra’s mobile tower location showed that he was at Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.
Authorities came to know on Thursday that Mishra, who had been staying alone in his quarters at Kollam, was not there after the health department staff who regularly visit people in quarantine, found the lights in his house switched off, police sources said.
"When an officer leaves his jurisdiction, he is supposed to inform the government, which Mishra did not. He has also not taken prior permission for leaving the state," the Collector said. A case has been registered against him under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent Act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 271 (disobedience to quarantine rule), police said.
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