COVID-19: First death, six new cases in Kerala on Saturday; entrance exams put off

Coronavirus: Respite for Kerala as just 6 new cases emerge on Saturday; entrance exams put off
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A few hours after Kerala confirmed its first COVID-19 death, the state heaved a huge sigh of relief when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed that only six persons were tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.

The development was significant as the slump came just 24 hours after the state recorded 39 positive cases on Friday. Friday's was the highest surge on a single day after the first positive case in the State was reported on January 30.

The slump notwithstanding, chief minister warned against complacency. "It is not the time to relax. We should strictly adhere to the precautionary measures as we are still concerned about the virus spread," he said at the daily media briefing in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.

Ernakulam resident Yakub Hussain Sait, 69, died at the Kalamasserry Medical College at 8am on Saturday.

Of Saturday's six positive cases, two were from Thiruvananthapuram district. The others hailed from Kollam, Palakkad, Malappuram and Kasaragod districts.

As of Saturday, 165 persons are under treatment for COVID-19 in various hospitals in the state. Of the 1,34,370 kept under observation, 1,33,750 are at home while 620 are in hospitals.

As many as four persons were cured of the disease - two from Kottayam and one each from one from Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam - on Saturday. 

Entrance exams postponed

In the wake of coronavirus outbreak, the government has decided to postpone the state entrance examinations for various medical and engineering courses. Fresh dates will be announced later. 

Break Corona app

Pinarayi Vijayan said the government has launched 'Break Corona' web application with the help of Kerala Startup Mission. 

The web application has been developed to invite novel ideas from people to combat the virus.

"People can send ideas, including how to stop community spread, mask manufacturing, how to create job opportunities etc. These ideas will be scrutinised by a panel of experts. If found good, they will be accepted," said Vijayan.

'Newspaper distribution essential service'

The chief minister said newspaper distribution comes under essential services and people should desist from hindering distribution. "We have noticed that many residents associations have been disrupting newspaper distribution. It is unacceptable," he said.

Food availability

The chief minister said the government has taken measures to ensure uninterrupted supply of food during the lockdown period. For this, the government would take stock of food items with Food Corporation of India (FCI), Supplyco, Marketfed and Consumerfed, besides expediting measures to bring food items through road, rail and sea routes.

Vijayan said ration supply will begin from April 1. "The government will utilise the services of volunteers in the procurement and distribution of local produce," he said.

Community kitchen

Vijayan said 934 community kitchens became operational in corporations, municipalities and gram panchayats on Saturday. "Till Friday, the community kitchens distributed food for 52,480 persons," he said.

Treasury to work from 9am to 5pm

All treasuries in the state will work from 9am to 5pm. "Measures have been taken to avoid rush," Vijayan said.

Karnataka border issue

Vijayan said Karnataka continues to deny entry to people from Kerala despite raising the issue with the neighbouring government. 

On Friday, Karnataka built a wall using sacks of mud, blocking entry of people and vehicles from Kerala. This has affected people living near the border who depend depend on Mangaluru for livelihood and medical requirements.

Vijayan said Kerala chief secretary spoke to his counterpart in Karnataka, but no action has been taken so far. "I too tried to contact Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyuirappa several times on Saturday, but I could not get him," said Vijayan.

Vijayan said he raised the issue with Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, who hails from Karnataka. "Gowda has promised me to talk to the Karanataka chief minister. Hope the issue will be resolved soon," he said.

The blockade has affected patients from Kannur and Kasargod districts who are in need of urgent medical care.

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