Coronavirus cases rise to 39 as 5 found infected in Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Government’s efforts to firewall the State against the spread of COVID-19 today collapsed with the detection of five new cases in a family in Pathanamthitta district, and with the possibility of over 3000 people have possibly interacted with the carriers, alarm bells have started ringing.
The state has now been put on high alert and the government has launched an all-out effort to trace the people who had interacted with the family. As if all this was not enough, the state is also in the grip of bird flu.
All the five new COVID cases are from one family in Ranni near Pathanamthitta. Three of them – a couple in their 50s and their 24-year-old son – had deliberately evaded screening at the Kochi airport and had also hidden their travel history to Venice in Italy. They had come from Doha a week ago after visiting Italy where the virus is on the run.
Though they showed symptoms of COVID 19, they refused to go for treatment till the situation worsened. Initially, they refused to cooperate with health officials but then were forcefully admitted to the isolation ward of the Pathnamathitta general hospital and are now being treated.
They were admitted to hospital on March 6 and their tests were confirmed positive on Saturday night.
Subsequent to their arrival on March 1 in Kochi, they transmitted the virus to two of their close relatives and visited public places and offices including the passport office.
“As of now, their condition is stable. But there is need to take extra care”, Health Minister KK Shylaja told the media. They have all been kept in an isolation ward at the Pathanamthitta government hospital.
As a precautionary measure, two nonagenarian members of the family have been shifted to the Kottayam Medical College hospital even as seven others have been kept under observation. Authorities have started bringing in the other family members who had interacted with the carriers to isolation wards. They are also being put into an isolation ward for observation.
The fresh cases have come as a shock for a vigilant health department which had successfully treated India’s first three coronavirus patients – all medical students from Wuhan. They were subsequently discharged.
A livid Health Minister said: “The Italy-returned family hid their travel details from the health authorities. Such practises will be seen as a crime in future. Those who come from countries like Iran, Italy, South Korea and China should report to the health department immediately.”
Later, the police said the prosecution would be launched against those who hide their travel history or their health condition on arrival from abroad.
The affected family took the Venice-Doha Qatar airlines QR 126 flight on February 29 and after one and half hours at Doha airport they took another Qatar Airlines flight QR514 to Kochi and arrived at 8.20 am on March 1 and took a private car to their home at Ranni.
All the passengers who travelled in the two flights should get in touch with health authorities, the minister said.
The news cases have cropped up just a day ahead of world-famous “Attukal Pongal” festival in Thiruvananthapuram when thousands of women from various parts of Kerala and abroad congregate for the largest pilgrimage of women in terms of numbers.
Another festival comprising women in large numbers is to take place at Chottanikara near Kochi on Monday.
The COVID-19 scare has not deterred the devotees in the two places though the state government is on tenterhooks.
Officials of the Sabarimala temple have asked devotees to stay away if they have a cold, cough or fever. The temple opens on Friday. Meanwhile, Kozhikode district is in the grip of bird flu. Following the death of a large number of chicken in two panchayat areas, authorities have ordered the immediate culling of birds in the vicinity of two km from the affected farms. So far bird flu has not affected people.