Home / News / India /  Kerala warns as two Gulf returnees test coronavirus positive

Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi: Kerala detected two more positive COVID-19 cases on Saturday -- both airlifted by the Centre from abroad under its 'Vande Bharat' mission to bring back stranded Indians and expatriates in other countries -- hours after the state declared it has flattened the coronavirus curve.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the new cases is "a warning to those coming back from abroad and for other states to be on the alert". He also said there is a need to strengthen "our mitigation efforts and preventive measures".

Kerala was among the first states in India to report the deadly virus infection, but it has also earned global praise for having effectively managed to tackle the crisis by being among the states with much higher recovery rates and much less-spread outbreak so far.

For several days in the recent weeks, the state has reported either nil or just 1-2 fresh cases. It has got only 17 active cases now, while fatalities have been only three. Out of the total 505 infected so far, Kerala has till now cured 485.

Earlier this morning, Kerala's Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had tweeted that the state "flattened the curve" on the 100th day of the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19.

"We are bracing ourselves for the 3rd wave," he said.

Vijayan had also said on Friday that Kerala has flattened the curve, but had cautioned that the state needed to be careful to avoid another wave of the deadly virus. He had also asserted that the state was ready to fight it in such an event.

Speaking to reporters after two more cases were detected on Saturday, Vijayan said the total number of cases detected so far in the state has gone up to 505 and there are currently 17 under treatment.

"One patient from Idukki, who was under treatment, has been cured today, while two new cases are now under treatment in Kochi and Kozhikode.

"They (the two new patients) reached the state on May 7 in the Abu Dhabi-Kochi and Dubai-Kozhikode flights respectively," Vijayan said. These two were among the first-day flights under the 'Vande Bharat Mission'.

With the return of expatriates and also Keralites from other states, the number of people under surveillance has gone up to 23,930, of whom 334 are isolated at hospitals, Vijayan said.

The Chief Minister said 485 of the total of 505 infected people in the state have been cured.

"The new cases being reported is a warning to those coming back from abroad and other states to be on the alert. We need to strengthen our mitigation efforts and preventive measures," Vijayan said.

The Chief Minister said entry passes are mandatory to enter Kerala through check posts bordering neigbouring states and those without it would be sent back.

Those wishing to come to Kerala should register through the COVID-19 'Jagratha Portal' and start their journey only after getting the pass, he said.

"The pass is mandatory. Based on logistics and for crowd control,there is a limit on the number of people who can cross the border every day and passes are being issued according to that, Vijayan said.

He said there were some people who had reached the borders without necessary documents and it was not acceptable.

Till now, 54,262 passes have been issued and so far, 21,812 Keralites from other states have reached back home through five border check posts.

Vijayan also said that special non-stop trains would be run from Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai to the state to bring back the stranded Keralites.

"We hope that the first train will be from Delhi to bring back the stranded students there. The date will be announced soon," Vijayan said.

The chief minister also said 152 expatriates from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia arrived at Kozhikode on Friday. Apart from 142 Keralites, there were eight from Karnataka and two from Tamil Nadu.

"There were 128 adults and 24 children, including 78 pregnant women. Of these, 114 were sent home and the rest were transferred to various Covid Care Centres," Vijayan said.

He said another flight from Bahrain to Kochi arrived on Friday with 181 passengers, in which there were 25 pregnant women and 28 children under the age of 10.

Three flights from Muscat to Kochi, Kuwait to Kochi and Doha to Kochi were expected to arrive in Kerala tonight.

Two more Air India Express flights, carrying 362 people from Oman and Kuwait, arrived at Kochi from two Gulf nations on Saturday night as part of the 'Vande Bharat Mission'. These people included eight infants.

All passengers would be subjected to COVID-19 rapid test at the airport and will also be quarantined after completing formalities at the airport.

Another Air India Express flight from Doha, carrying 177 passengers and six infants, was expected to arrive here in the early hours on Sunday.

The chief minister also said that as per the recommendations of an expert committee, people coming from other states would first undergo a medical check-up and those without any symptoms will be sent home for 14 days quarantine.

"If they show any symptoms, a PCR test will be done and they would be transferred to Covid hospitals," Vijayan said.

So far, 36,648 samples have been sent for testing, he said.

A naval ship will also reach Kochi on May 10 with 698 Indian nationals including more than 400 Keralites, who were stranded in Maldives.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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