Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vjayan today said that the state was not in favor of restarting regular services of inter-state trains yet, and warned that any railway passenger who arrives without pre-registering on the state COVID portal will be put in institutional quarantine for 14 days.
At the same time, Vijayan said he was not opposed to the restarting of local passenger trains.
Vijayan urged all train passengers to Kerala to register themselves on Kerala government’s Jagratha COVID-19 portal as soon as they manage to get a confirmed ticket.
If people register themselves on the portal, he pointed out, the government can send officials to their home and verify if the required quarantine facilities are available there.
If they find that the home has suitable quarantine facilities, mainly bath-attached rooms, said Vijayan, the railway passengers will be allowed to go straight to their homes from the railway station.
If the officials do not find suitable quarantine facilities at the passengers’ home, or if the passenger has not pre-registered on the portal, they will be sent to a 14-day institutional quarantine under government supervision, he said.
This is likely to be apply to visitors from both red zone and other districts, though the chief minister did not clariy this point.
Vijayan also asked Indian Railways to allow the trains to stop at Kannur or Kasargode railway stations for the convenience of those from these two districts, and to avoid Keralite passengers from getting down at Mangalore and coming to these districts by road.
NOT READY FOR INTER-STATE TRAINS
Nevertheless, Pinarayi Vijayan also said the time is not right to restart regular inter-state train services.
Indian Railways has slowly started operating regular inter-state trains today.
Instead of regular services, he said, only special and targeted trains should be run from major cities of India to each state to bring back stranded citizens of that state.
Vijayan said that such special trains should not comprise air conditioned coaches, as previous experience has shown that air conditioned coaches and vehicles increase the chances of viral transmission many fold.
“We have enough experience within our country about the danger posed by air-conditioned travel during these times,” Vijayan said.
“A total of 4,198 people were ferried from Hazur Sahib [in Maharashtra] to Punjab. 1,217 of them were found to be infected with Coronavirus. It is believed that most of them got the virus during the journey,” he said, adding that the Kerala government will bring this matter to the attention of Indian Railways and the central government.
Meanwhile, the state saw seven new COVID-19 cases today, taking the total to 32.
The total number of COVID-19 cases had fallen to a low of 16 last week, before climbing again as it opened its borders to welcome Keralites from outside the state.
A total of over 33,000 people have since arrived in Kerala from other states of India, and over 1,400 have come from the Gulf countries as part of the Vande Bharat mission, he said.
In all, nearly 90,000 passes have already been issued for people to return to the state from other states in India, and more than half of these are from red zone districts, he added.
So far, a total of 7 people, or 0.5%, of those who came via Vande Bharat flights to Kerala, have tested positive for COVID-19, the chief minister added.