: Twelve people, including five Britishers, tested positive for coronavirus on a single day on Friday, taking the total number of COVID-19 cases to 37 in Kerala even as more than 44,000 are under observation, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Five foreign tourists from the UK tested positive for the virus in Ernakulam, while six positive cases were reported from Kasaragod and one from Palakkad, Vijayan told reporters after a COVID-19 review meeting here.
"Totally, 44,390 people are under observation, of which 44,165 are in home quarantine and 225 in isolation wards in various hospitals," he said.
A total of 3,456 blood samples were sent for testing, of which 2,393 returned negative.
"We need to be more careful and serious in dealing with this pandemic as there are 12 more cases in the state today. The positive cases of Ernakulam are the UK tourists, who travelled from Munnar earlier.
One person is from Palakkad. He is a UK-returnee," Vijayan said.
Describing the Kasaragod cases as "worrisome", Vijayan said one of the affected persons had moved around "disregarding" the health department's directions and had met scores of people at public events, weddings and a football match.
"Those in home quarantine must strictly follow the orders of the health department. Many tend to listen, but there are some people who defy such directions," Vijayan said.
In view of six new positive cases at Kasaragod, government offices in the district would be closed for a week from tomorrow, while all places of worship and clubs would be shut for two weeks, he said.
Jumma prayers will not be held in mosques.
"All government offices in the district would remain closed.
Places of worship would remain shut for two weeks and shops would remain open only from 11 AM to 5 PM.
We need to impose such restrictions in Kasaragod. We have issued an order in this regard. Two MLAs from the district are also under observation as they had come in contact with a positive case," Vijayan said.
Vijayan said the state government would follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for 'Janata Curfew' on Sunday and added that the state-run transport buses and even the Metro Rail will halt their services for 14 hours.
"But we need people to stay in their house and clean it and the premises during the curfew period," Vijayan said.
All school and college exams have been postponed and teachers have been asked not to come to their respective institutions.
The government also imposed restrictions in its offices with workforce being limited to 50 per cent on a day.
The remaining employees will work from home.
"We are making it five working days per week. Offices will be closed on Saturday for next two weeks. However, this is not for the emergency services.
The 50 per cent of officials keeping away from office will have to work from home," Vijayan said.
The state government also decided not to allow pilgrims to the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta district for the annual festival beginning on March 29 to check the coronavirus spread.
The Guruvayur Lord Krishna temple at Thrissur will remain closed for devotees from March 21 until further notice, officials said.
"Both the temples will continue their rituals and poojas but will remain closed to devotees," they said.
In view of the directives of the central and state governments to prevent spread of coronavirus, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council on Friday decided to stop holy mass with people's participation in the Churches under its control.
Priests have been directed to conduct holy mass in churches without people's participation and pray for the people and rescue them from the virus attack.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)