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Poonam Singh

Thiruvananthapuram: An alert has been sounded in Kerala after six UK returnees to the state after December 14 tested positive for the new coronavirus strain.

While two persons each from Alappuzha and Kozhikode tested positive for the new variant, Kottayam and Kannur districts reported one case each, officials said on Tuesday.

Health Minister KK Shailaja called upon the people to opt for self-imposed lockdown. "More people are coming out after the lockdown restrictions were relaxed. We will now have to adopt self-imposed lockdown and show more self-discipline. People must go out only of their houses for emergency purposes. The next few weeks are crucial."

"Six people who recently returned from the UK have tested positive for the new strain. We have placed them under surveillance. Their samples had been sent to NIV, Pune, and the the results were received today," she told reporters.

Shailaja said that these people have since been shifted to hospitals and lists of people they came in contact with were prepared. These contacts have also been put in quarantine, she said.

Meanwhile, the state has requested the Union government for 5 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccines for healthcare professionals in the first phase.

The state informed the Centre that the test positivity rates and the number of corona cases in Kerala are expected to touch 9,000 cases per day. The state had given more relaxations during the festive season and the recent local body elections, which may have led to the projections on the number of cases.

Around 3.13 lakh people have already registered for the vaccine in the state, which include frontline health workers, medical students from all streams, and aanganwadi workers. The state is also planning to include police personnel in the list if the state receives 5 lakh doses of vaccines in the first phase.

In a related development, BJP state President K Surendran told IANS: "Kerala's Covid-19 cases are mounting and I have requested the Prime Minister to constitute a special team of doctors to be sent to the state to assess the ground situation."

Earlier in the day, the central government said that 20 more cases of mutant strain of coronavirus reported from UK have been detected in India, taking the total such cases in the country to 58.

(With Agency Inputs)

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