Staring at a public health crisis, Kerala government on Tuesday announced shutting down schools until Class 7, colleges, movie theatres and cancel all public functions scheduled in March, in the wake of coronavirus (COVID-19).
However, the Class 10 board exams and the annual exams of Class 8 and 9 -- which began Monday -- will continue, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said adding that all Madrasas, Anganawadis (nurseries) and other such educational bodies that admit children will also be shut.
Students showing coronavirus symptoms will not be allowed to write exams and those under observation, but without any symptoms, will be allowed to write exams in a separate room.
The government has also urged people to cancel weddings, religious gatherings and other events that invite a mass gathering in order to prevent the spread of deadly virus.
"This is also a season of religious festivities. But we should avoid holding large festivities and marriages. At least, they should be reduced to mere rituals and limit the people in attendance. In Sabarimala (which opens for a few days in March), people should avoid going for the pilgrimage, but the rituals in the temple will be allowed to continue," Vijayan said adding that all official celebrations and big events planned by the state government in March also stands cancelled.
"Globally, it is now clear that we are in a public health emergency crisis," said Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Kerala reported 15 positive cases of COVID-19 – highest in the country – from which three have fully recovered. Out of the 12 virus-affected patients in Kerala hospitals, four returned from Italy and the remaining eight were in contact with them, Vijayan said.
This apart, 1116 people are under observation, 967 of them in houses and the rest 149 in hospitals spread across central-southern districts Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Ernakulam, he added. A total of 807 samples were sent for testing from which 717 were negative. The test result of the remaining samples is pending, said Vijayan.
The government has urged the office-goers to use hand sanitizers more frequently. In Pathanamthitta, the ground-zero of the crisis with the maximum number of cases, the government had already banned the use of biometric punching devices.