Coronavirus outbreak being declared State calamity

A woman wears a mask as part of precaution against coronavirus at a hospital in Kochi Monday. India has so far reported three cases of the novel coronavirus, all of them from Kerala.   | Photo Credit: Press Trust of India

The novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak was declared a State calamity after the apex committee of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) met here with Chief Secretary Tome Jose in the chair on Monday and made such a proposal to ensure that the outbreak is controlled.

Health Minister K.K. Shylaja said the declaration was not to create a scare or panic but to keep the public on alert and to remind them that they needed to observe the directives issued by the Health Department. A few persons were giving authorities the slip and avoiding quarantine measures. Such people were posing a serious hazard to their own life and the life of others.


The declaration brings the epidemic under the ambit of the Disaster Management Act. It enables the government to spend money from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for activities undertaken to contain the threat. Now, the overall coordination comes under the executive committee of the SDMA headed by the Chief Secretary. The panel includes the Secretaries for Home, Health, Disaster Management and Finance.

As of Monday, 2,239 travellers from China and other nCoV-affected countries have been placed under surveillance. Among them, 2,155 are under home isolation and 84 admitted in hospitals with isolation facilities in various districts, a bulletin by the Health Department said.

Of the 140 samples sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, so far, 46 have tested negative. Hospital authorities have confirmed that the condition of all symptomatic persons under isolation in hospitals is stable.

The Health Department has taken adequate preparatory measures and framed detailed guidelines as soon as the WHO issued a global health alert and this helped the State respond appropriately when nCoV struck, Ms. Shylaja said in the Assembly.


Airport surveillance and coordinated surveillance and monitoring measures with the help of various departments and local self- governing bodies helped the Health Department keep track of those who have returned to the State from China. The excellent logistics management by the department ensured a green channel for the smooth transfer of anyone (on home quarantine) developing flu symptoms to isolation facilities.

The State only required an intimation from China returnees and the rest were taken care of. A call to the 24x7 helpline (DISHA 1056) ensured that a person (who had developed flu symptoms) was picked up in a special ambulance and transferred directly to selected hospitals with isolation facilities, rather than the patient going through various departments.

Control rooms have been opened at the State and district level and all activities were being reviewed on a daily basis, Ms. Shylaja said.

At least two hospitals have been readied with isolation facilities in all districts and adequate personal protection equipment has been arranged in all hospitals, she added.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 7:09:12 PM |

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