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All new Covid-19 cases traced to arrivals: Kerala Addl Chief Secy

The state administration was motivating health workers to not turn complacent. “Our biggest challenge is to not let fatigue set in as this struggle will go on for a least the next four months. We have to keep the fight till a vaccine is developed.”

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: May 23, 2020, 07.18 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Covid-19 cases in Kerala went up from 15 on May 4 to 215 on Friday mainly because some people who arrived from West Asia did not reveal symptoms, additional chief secretary Vishwas Mehta told ET. All the new Covid-19 cases in Kerala have been traced back to people who arrived from abroad or other states, he said.

With domestic flights set to resume on Monday, the state which contained the pandemic and won international accolades, is now bracing for a fresh challenge. Stringent home quarantine, mandatory use of state's health monitoring app, government vans for transporting people from airports to homes, tracking of people through control rooms and day-to-day checking of returnees are being put in place, Mehta said. The state administration was motivating health workers to not turn complacent.

“Our biggest challenge is to not let fatigue set in as this struggle will go on for a least the next four months. We have to keep the fight till a vaccine is developed.” For people who will start arrive from Monday, apart from panchayat and ward level committees and community ‘maitri police’, monitoring teams are being roped in to impose home quarantine.

“There is peer pressure in Kerala society about the responsibility to not infect anyone, which is why home quarantine works well for us. At one point, nearly 1.7 lakh people were under surveillance,” he said.

According to state government figures till Thursday, 7,085 passengers arrived at Kerala airports from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Bahrain, Kuwait, Muscat, Doha, Maldives, Malaysia, Singapore, Jeddah and London, since May 7, and 3,851 were asked to remain home while 3,234 were under home quarantine. Fifty-three tested positive for the virus. Of 1,358 people who arrived at ports, six tested positive. Nearly 58,919 people reached via road and 46 were found positive. Of 1,021 people who arrived via special trains, none tested positive.

“We had one of the best recovery rates, reducing to just 15 active cases on May 4, and three deaths. When the talk about bringing back our people from foreign countries started, we had asked the aviation and home ministries that in the first phase only those who tested negative be allowed to board flights.”

“Not all countries in the Gulf have test facilities, but UAE has. We could have screened them here. The asymptomatic patients could have been sent on home quarantine, while the symptomatic asked to take tests. This could have contained the numbers, but unfortunately that did not happen. When flights and trains resumed, many people, particularly those coming from hotspots, hid symptoms," he said.

In the two flights that came to Kerala on May 7 from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, ten people were symptomatic, and two people tested positive, after which all passengers on both flights were put under observation.

"Three days ago, four people with symptoms from Abu Dhabi managed to board the flight. The screening didn't detect them, nor did they declare they had symptoms. On the bus, they talked about cheating the system. That is when other passengers found out and informed us," Mehta said.

The state government, like many other States has a crisis monitoring meeting of all bureaucrats everyday, headed by the chief secretary, after which the CM briefs the media in the evening.

The State administration has also collected details about all 43,665 migrant workers in the State of which 12, 621 are from Bihar and 11,421 are from Uttar Pradesh. Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Kannur are places that have the highest number of "guest" workers.

"Not one case however has been detected among the migrant workers," Mehta added.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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