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Christian leaders urge citizens to follow government instruction to avoid spread of coronavirus

Tuesday, February 4, 2020, 23:42 (IST)

As Kerala reported the first three cases of coronavirus infection, the state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan declared the epidemic as a "state calamity" on February 3.

All three infected are students who returned from Wuhan, China, where the virus was first reported in December and has claimed more than 400 lives so far.

Kerala State Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said that around 2,200 people who recently returned to the country from China, are under strict observation.

While many students from Kerala pursue their studies in China, every year hundreds of people from Kerala also travel to China for business.

Until now, Kerala is the only state in India where the deadly virus is detected. Following the outbreak of the virus, special control rooms have been opened in all 14 districts in Kerala.

"The calamity-hit state has kept 2,239 people, who traveled from virus-affected countries including China, under surveillance," a state bulletin said. "Among them, as many as 2,155 are under home quarantine and 84 admitted to isolation wards in different hospitals."

Health Minister K.K. Shailaja warned of taking legal action against people who fail to report their recent travel to China.

"What they are doing by not reporting is very dangerous," Shailaja said. "Those who remain under observation and home quarantine are doing a great job for society. We should be thankful to them. All the 2,239 persons under observation came to us directly, saying they came from China."

Cardinal George Alencherry is asking people to stay alert and follow the instructions from the government to avoid the virus from spreading any further.

In a statement made on February 3, the cardinal said, "The Church wants people to be alert to the phenomenon of the coronavirus attack and make adequate preparation to avoid its infection."

Father Antony Thalachelloor, spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Synod said, "If the people follow the government instruction properly, we can contain the virus from spreading any further."