Coronavirus: Kerala’s Aythala presses the panic button

3 churches stop Sunday mass, public frantically search for masks

Panic struck the small village of Aythala in Ranni on Sunday, with the Health authorities confirming COVID-19 infection in five persons who were admitted to the isolation ward at the General Hospital two days ago.

Television news channels started scrolling an announcement of District Medical Officer A.L. Sheeja, confirming COVID-19 infection in three persons who had recently reached their home in Aythala and two of their relatives in the neighbourhood.

The three churches in the village stopped the Sunday mass and asked the faithful to stay at their homes for the time being. Roads in the nearby town of Ranni too were more or less deserted.

Shops closed

Almost all shops in the town remained closed and people began a frantic search for masks. Various voluntary organisations later distributed masks for free.

Local MLA Raju Abraham and health workers rushed to the area and sought people’s cooperation in keeping the infection at bay.

Health Minister K.K. Shylaja consulted Mr. Abraham to chalk out plans to identify all those in and around Aythala who had come in contact with the five infected persons. Teams of people’s representatives and Health officials visited almost all houses in Aythala twice on Sunday, prompting the public to undergo medical examination as directed by the department.

Drivers identified

The teams have also identified the autorickshaws and other vehicles in which the infected persons had travelled from February 29 to March 7 and asked the vehicle drivers to undergo clinical examination. The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church has postponed the four-day religious convention planned at the Municipal Stadium in Pathanamnthitta this week.

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