Kerala reports 15 new COVID-19 cases; Janta Curfew total

(Eds: Combines related stories, adds details) Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 22 (PTI) In the highest rise on a single day so far, Kerala reported 15 positive cases of coronavirus on Sunday, taking the total number of infected persons under treatment in the state to 64 as the 'Janta Curfew', called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, evoked a complete reponse.

Health department said out of the 15, five cases were reported in Kasaragod district, four in Kannur and two each in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Ernakulam districts.

'A total of 59,295 are under observation in the state, out of which 314 are in isolation wards across the state,' it said in a release here.

At least 4,035 samples have been sent for testing and 2,744 came back negative, the release said.

The reporting of 15 new cases is the highest number of positive cases on a single day in the state so far and followed 12 cases each on Friday and Saturday.

Meanwhile, prohibitory orders were promulgated in Kasaragod district, which witnessed a spurt in positive cases in the last few days, accounting for 19 patients, and public transport services halted to contain the virus.

In rseponse to the 'Janata Curfew', Kerala was under a complete lock-down and roads in the state capital and other parts wore a deserted look on Sunday with people on their own taking part in the shutdow, proposed to check the spread of coronavirus.

The self-imposed curfew call by the Prime Minister had been welcomed by the Left government in the state.

Barring a few vehicles now and then, roads in major cities, including Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam were empty.

An official release in Kasaragod said 'District collector has issued prohibitory order as per section 144 of CrPC in the district. All public transport facilities are halted until further notice.' The Kasaragod district was already under lockdown since yesterday after 14 positive cases were detected. With today's five cases, the total number there has gone up to 19.

On Sunday, state-run transport buses were off the roads while Kochi Metro Rail also stopped its service along with private buses and the auto-rickshaws.

Fire department officials were engaged in spraying water mixed with disinfectant at all the public spaces in the state.

With 15 new positive cases of Covid-19, the total number of infected persons in Kerala had gone up to 67, including the three who have been discharged after recovery last month.

Meanwhile, the state government is yet to take a decision on the lockdown of nine districts as was agreed in the Centre-state governments meet.

The meeting decided to announce a lockdown in 75 districts across the country where coronavirus cases have been reported.

State governments will issue orders allowing only essential services to operate in about 75 districts with confirmed COVID 19 cases or casualties, an official said.

While health minister K K Shailaja said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan would take an appropriate decision after the evaluation meet, chief secretary Tom Jose said, restrictions in nine districts will be imposed after a meeting with the CM.

When asked about the lockdown, the Chief Secretary said the essential services like water, electricity, food, milk, medical shops, petrol pumps, provisional stores and others will not be affected.

'Essential services will not be affected. Lockdown is to restrict people from coming out in a group to public spaces.

The Chief Minister will hold a meeting with the traders organisations and decide the timing for opening the stores,' Jose said.

He said even though the inter-state and inter-district public transportations have been halted, private vehicles would be allowed.

Meanwhile, Vijayan has written to the Prime Minister seeking permission to give clearances for manufacturing medical equipment including masks and sanitisers. PTI RRT VS VS