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ERNAKULAM: Pathanamthitta district, ground zero of Kerala's battle against COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, has declared holiday for all educational institutes for the next three days. In neighbouring Kottayam also, schools and colleges have been ordered shut.

On Sunday, Kerala reported fresh five cases of novel coronavirus, which a father, mother and their son, and two relatives who they visited. The family had a travel history to Italy.

Mar Ivanious, a private college in Trivandrum, where many students hail from Pathanamthitta, has also granted leaves with full attendance for a week.

Holidays at schools and colleges are the latest in the series of steps Kerala has taken to contain the spread of the virus.

All passengers in the Doha-Kochi flight in which the infected family travelled have been identified, of which 28 have been quarantined at their respective homes, the state government has said.

Currently, there are 732 people who are in isolation in hospitals or quarantined at home in the state.

Kerala on Sunday warned of strict action, including prosecution, against people hiding travel details to affected countries and symptoms. Health minister K K Shailaja had said of the fresh five cases, three--the couple and their son--had evaded screening at the airport on their return.

However, the couple's son told the Malayala Manorama newspaper that they were screened and cleared at the Italian airport before boarding the flight to Kerala via Doha.

"They didn't do any screening despite us informing that we are coming from Italy. We didn't try to conceal details. Anybody will know from where one is coming from by looking at the passport," the person said.

He also denied reports that they had gone to the local church and cinema hall after landing in Kerala. He said they had visited a private hospital because of his grandmother's high blood pressure.

Since it was first reported in China's Wuhan in December, the virus has affected 110,034 globally, with death toll at 3,825, according to Johns Hopkins University's live tracker of the disease.

India's toll of confirmed cases has touched 39.


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