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Kerala CM to oppose Centre's call for negative Covid-19 testing for NRIs

Says he has already written to PM and External Affairs, will reach out to Health Ministry too; hints at Assembly resolution againt Centre's decision

Coronavirus | Kerala | Pinarayi Vijayan

Gireesh Babu  |  Chennai 

Pinarayi Vijayan
File photo of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

Chief Minister has taken exceptiom to the Centre's decision to stop non-resident Indians (NRI) entering India from coronavirus-infected countries without a certificate that they haven't been infected a mistake. Speaking in the Assembly today, Vijayan said he has already written to the Prime Minister and External Affairs Ministry and will reach out to the Union Health Ministry as well.

"The Director General of Civil Aviation has issued a circular to the effect that the NRIs from countries like Italy cannot come to India without testing negative for Covid-19. Several Indians, including Keralites, are stuck in Italy and what we hear from there is that the Italian government has refused to conduct tests on those who don't have symptoms of infection. It is uncivilised to say that India will not allow its own citizens from another country to enter, whether or not they are infected," Vijayan told the Assembly.

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He added that in a meeting between the Chief Secretary of and the Central Cabinet Secretary on this matter on Tuesday shows that the Centre's decision emanates at a high level. The Centre has also informed the State that in two days, a medical team will be sent to Italy to test those who want to come to India and those who test positive may have to stay there in quarantine.

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"The Assembly can bring in a resolution in this regard, if needed, tomorrow itself," Vijayan said.

Reports are that 17 people from Italy who landed in Kochi Tuesday night have been moved to isolation wards in a nearby medical college.

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The State government on Tuesday evening said some 1,495 people are under observation, including 1,236 in home quarantine and 259 in hospitals. A special cabinet meeting held on Tuesday to assess the new disease (Covid-19) infection in decided to put the State on high alert. School classes up to the eighth standard have been advised to remain closed till March 31. The government is assessing the economic losses due to the infection in the State, said Vijayan.

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Examinations for classes 8 to 12 will be held as per the schedule, but those till class 7 will not be conducted. For those under observation for infection, arrangements have been made to conduct exams for them in separate rooms. Tuition classes and special classes should also be avoided now. Madrassas, Anganwadis and tutorials must also remain closed till March 31. Food for Anganwadi students must be served at home. Classes at professional colleges and other institutions have also been suspended. The state has also asked CBSE to suspend classes in March.

All public functions at which people are likely to gather in large numbers have to be avoided. Marriages and festivals should be conducted with minimum public presence. Rituals can be held in temples such as Sabarimala by restricting attendance to the barest minimum. Public funtions organised by the state government have been also postponed.

First Published: Wed, March 11 2020. 21:18 IST