Night curfew comes into force in Kerala; Over 19,000 cases reported

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(Eds: updating with details) Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 20 (PTI): Night curfew came into force in Kerala on Tuesday as the state reported the highest single day surge of over 19,000 COVID-19 cases.

In the state capital, many busy areas, including Thampanoor and the Statue area in front of theSecretariat wore a deserted look by 9 pm as vehicles were off the roads.

Shops were also closed.

Malls and cinema houses in the state functioned only till 7.30 pm as part of the restrictions, which will last for two weeks from today.

Hotels and restaurants restricted in house dining to the barest minimum and encouraged home deliveries and takeaways, which were not permitted beyond 9 pm.

Essential services, including medical stores, hospitals, milk have been exempted from the curfew, which will be in force from 9 PM to 5 AM.

Kerala recorded 19,577 positive cases, including 66 health workers, on Tuesday, pushing the virus caseload to 12.

72 lakh and the active cases to 1.18 lakh.

The toll mounted to 4,978 with the addition of 28 deaths.

Among those who tested positive on Tuesday were 52 trainees of the police academy at Thrissur, following which the institution was shut.

This is the highest single day surge reported from Kerala since the outbreak of the virus, according to government sources.

The country's first Coronavirus case was reported from the state when a medical student from Wuhan, the sprawling capital of China's Hubei province, tested positive on her return on January 30, 2020 to Kerala.

Two other students from Wuhan also subsequently tested positive. All the three had later recovered.

As part of mass testing on Friday and Saturday last, 3,00,971 samples had been collected.

In the last 24 hours ending 2 pm, 1,12,221 samples were tested and the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) was 17.45 per cent, a government press release said.

So far 1,44,71,237 samples have been tested.

Due to the rise in cases, the iconic Thrissur Pooram will be held without public participation this week.

The state-level bankers committee decided torestrict banking hours from 10 AM to 2 PM in view of the surge in cases in the state, till April 30 from tomorrow.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also wrote a letterto Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging the Centre to provide the entire quantity of vaccines needed by state governments free of cost.

The state police registered 5144 cases for violation of COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday, arrested 1142 people and seized 15 vehicles.

Cases were registered against 18,881 people for not wearing masks.

Meanwhile, though the state is witnessing a steep surge in Covid cases, the government decided not to impose lockdowns during weekends for the time being.

The decision in this regard was taken at a meeting convened by Chief Secretary Dr V P Joy.

In areas where the TPR was high, covid tests would be conducted in all homes.

It was also decided to conduct genome study on the virus mutant strains and work towards bringing down the TPR to below three per cent.

Though the cases are increasing, the state was equipped to handle any emergency situation and had enough ICU and ventilator facilities, the meeting noted.

DGP Loknath Behara said intensive testing would be carried out in five districts-- Kannur, Kasaragod, Malappuram, Kottayam and Palakkad-- where the test positivity rate was very high. PTI UD APR ADMINISTRATOR ADMINISTRATOR