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No new COVID-19 case for second day running in State

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said no new COVID-19 case was reported in Kerala for the second consecutive day on Wednesday.

However, public health authorities have brought additional 7,862 persons under observation. As many as 57 are in hospitals and the rest in their homes.

So far, 4,662 people have tested negative for COVID-19. Only 24 cases have tested positive for the virus in the second wave. They are under treatment.

Speaking to mediapersons after reviewing the epidemic situation in the State, Mr. Vijayan said an estimated 25,603 persons were under observation in Kerala, a majority of them in their homes.

Continued vigil

Mr. Vijayan said the indications on Wednesday were heartening. But society could ill-afford to abandon caution. It could not let the illness to overwhelm its finite health-care resources.

Kerala will outpace and finally halt the seemingly relentless march of the pestilence by more rigorous testing and self-imposed social distancing. The government has instructed public health centres, backed by local doctors, to remain open till evening, he said.

Mr. Vijayan held a conference with religious leaders to reduce crowds at places of worship to block the community spread of the virus. He shunned the crammed conference hall and opted to meet journalists in the open air outside the Secretariat North Block that houses his office.

Religious practices

The situation demanded that mosques and churches avoid crowding at Friday prayers and Sunday Mass respectively to prevent crowding, he said.

The Pattalam Palli mosque in Kozhikode has set an example by cancelling Friday prayers until further notice. The organisers of the Kodungalloor Bharani festival have decided to stick to rituals and disallow crowds at the temple.

The Marthoma Church and Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council have supported the government’s initiative to limit crowds at churches. Madrasas could conduct examinations and but should remain closed afterwards.

Mr. Vijayan pointed out that several COVID-19-hit countries had closed down places of worship to prevent crowding. Kerala, with its sizeable population of senior citizens, was required to be extra vigilant against large gatherings.

Enforced policy

Mr. Vijayan hinted that discouraging large public gatherings to obstruct the spread of the disease would be an enforced policy until the situation improved. The government has tasked the district administration and the police to implement it.

The Chief Minister said marriage hall owners should refund rent or advance taken from families who have cancelled weddings and other social events following the virus threat.

The government would commandeer hotels and lodges to house persons under observation for suspected COVID-19, if necessary. He suggested that traders implement online-shopping until the crisis was over.

Mr. Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala would chair a videoconference with panchayat members and municipal councillors to mobilise local-level volunteers for disease prevention.

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