CPPR Senior Fellow, Rijo John, comments in a news report published in The New Indian Express.

Image source: The New Indian Express

Ernakulam district reported its first case of Covid-19 infection in a month on Friday when a 30-year-old woman tested positive. It is a fresh headache to the state administration as it is the first confirmed case from among the people who have come into the state by road after select border checkposts were opened on Monday. The Kochi native, who is a kidney patient and a permanent resident of Chennai, reached the state on Wednesday and was admitted to a private hospital in Aluva.

The matter is worrying considering that nearly 17,000 people from other states have entered Kerala in the last three days after mere thermal scanning and oral questioning for the virus symptoms at checkposts. As per the protocol, the persons coming from hotspots like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are required to put under institutional quarantine while others are required to be in isolation at home for 14 days. However, the concern is about persons jumping home quarantine.

DGP Loknath Behera has asked the officers of Janamaithri police stations to ensure that the returnees do not violate home quarantine after receiving information that many of them have been roaming around, visiting relatives and friends instead of keeping themselves within the confines of their homes.

The biggest worry for Kerala is the speed at which the cases are spiking in Tamil Nadu — 600 on Friday alone. In contrast, Kerala has brought down the number of total active cases to just 16 and the doubling rate to 40 days. A total of 10,473 persons have entered the state through Walayar alone since Wednesday, and the hundreds of trucks that carrying vegetables and other commodities from the neighbouring state are another worry.

Rijo John, health economist and senior fellow at CPPR, a Kochi-based think-tank, said there is a fear factor as those coming from other states cannot be monitored properly. “The kind of stringent measures in place for expatriates would have been ideal for those coming from other states as well. TN is a real concern as cases there are doubling in 5-6 days now,” he said.

Near-foolproof mechanism in place: Officer

A district surveillance officer said there is no cause for concern as a near-foolproof mechanism has been put in place by the government. People coming from Maharashtra will be asked to be in institutional quarantine. The health officials will inform the panchayat and its rapid response team (RRT) will ensure they are lodged in a government facility, he explained. 

However, a panchayat secretary in Ernakulam told TNIE that the RRT was formed only on Friday. “We are depending on the Norka website for the details of the persons to contact them. We don’t know if they have reached here or not,” he said. Ernakulam Collector S Suhas said they have made all arrangements to monitor people coming from other states. “We’re also monitoring lorry drivers who visited red zones,” he said.

10,000 came through the Walayar border alone

This news report was published in The New Indian Express on May 9, 2020. Click here to read

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