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Strict enforcement of lockdown rules helped Wayanad tame coronavirus spread

The fact that one staffer each under the district collector and the district police chief was booked for violating curbs is proof enough of the administration’s zero-tolerance approach.

Published: 14th April 2020 06:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th April 2020 12:46 PM   |  A+A-

Police checking vehicles at Mananchira in Kozhikode after too many vehicles appear in the road even after the COVID-19 Lockdown has been extended. (Photo | Manu R Mavelil/EPS)

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: Strict enforcement is the whip Wayanad is using to tame the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district is not making any compromise and those violating quarantine directives are facing strict action.

The fact that one staffer each under the district collector and the district police chief was booked for violating curbs is proof enough of the administration’s zero-tolerance approach towards violators.

And it has worked. Despite facing several disadvantages – Wayanad is a high-range district sharing borders with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu – in containing the virus spread, the district reported just three positive cases of which two have been discharged. Of its eight lakh people, more than 12,000 were placed in home quarantine, a figure which has come down to 10,000.

A staggering 1,690 violation cases, including six related to spreading of fake news, were registered. 

“Strict enforcement is key. We were on a roll since March 15 and case against the first violation of COVID-19 restrictions was registered on the first day which sent a strong message,” said District Collector Adheela Abdulla.

The festival at Valliyoorkavu Bhagavathi temple was a major violation. However, the organisers themselves approached the district administration to abandon it.

“It prompted others to follow suit,” she said.

In the following days, cases were registered against three mosque committees for conducting gatherings with more than five people in attendance. 

The Wayanad district and police authorities also used the delayed geofencing method to detect quarantine-related violations.

“We monitored the highly mobile segment – people aged between 20 and 40 years – and realised that 50 per cent of them were violating the directives. The enforcement was tightened,” Abdulla said.

District police superintendent R Ilango said delayed geofencing is the method used to identify violators after four or five days and book them. 

Wayanad also showed its magnanimity during the lockdown when it opened its borders to let 73 people from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu enter the district for health-related needs. Wayanad has 14 checkpoints and round-the-clock monitoring was ensured to prevent people from crossing the borders illegally.

The patients also did their bit. The first case, a Thondernadu native, arrived at Karipur airport, took a private taxi to his house. On the way, he asked his wife and children to go to his brother’s house.

The next person, a 29-year old man, arranged a car for him at the airport, which he drove home and placed himself in quarantine.

However, the third case, a Kambalakkad native, visited his brother-in-law on the way from the airport, mingled with family members and also with a person who came to his house for curtain repair.

They were all quarantined. At present, only the 29-year-old is in hospital and his first sample has tested negative. 

‘Fight not over’

“While we can be relieved, the fight is far from over. Once lockdown restrictions are relaxed, many people will enter the district. This can be overcome through strict measures. At present, four COVID Care Centres have been identified as first-line treatment centres, while 135 hotels and other establishments will be converted into CCCs if needed,” said DMO R Renuka. 

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