The week-long triple lockdown, enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19, came into force in Thiruvananthapuram city early on Monday with the initial few hours witnessing widespread confusion as people scrambled to stock up essential commodities.
The City Corporation limits came under a multi-layered security blanket as the police sealed all border points that led to the State capital and various arterial roads across the 100 wards. While many motorists were permitted to pass through the borders for a short while after the restrictions came into effect at 6 a.m., numerous people were turned back later on.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order, Traffic) Divya V. Gopinath said that all roads, including the MC Road and the National Highway 66, had been sealed.
Cases are being registered and vehicles seized if people are found travelling unnecessarily. However, those requiring medical attention will not face obstructions, provided they paste papers on the windshields mentioning the name of the hospital they were headed to. Banks will be permitted to function with minimal staff.
Surveillance stepped up
Surveillance has also been stepped up in the containment zones and outside the houses of the primary and secondary contacts of COVID-19 patients in line with the triple-lockdown system that was necessitated by the sudden spike in cases. The situation came to a head when 22 of the 27 people, who were diagnosed with the disease in the district on Sunday, were found to have contracted the infection through contact transmission. A bulk of these cases were reported from places, including Manacaud, Poonthura, Attukal and Muttathara, that were designated containment zones a few days ago.
While hospitals, pharmacies, milk booths and groceries selling essential commodities have been permitted to function, large sections of the workforce found it difficult to report for work on account of the travel restrictions.
Replicating the triple lockdowns that were earlier observed in Kasaragod and Ponnani, the district administration has planned to deploy police personnel and volunteers to deliver essential commodities at doorsteps. While the district authorities have also circulated contact numbers for the public to avail the service, the facility was yet to become operational.
The abrupt declaration of the lockdown on Sunday night came as a jolt to the city residents with many rushing to purchase medicines and essential commodities, while several vehicles queued up before some petrol pumps. The lack of prior information evidently created panic among large sections of people who remained in the dark about the extent of curbs that were in store.
The State Secretariat, the seat of power in Kerala, remained completely shut for the first time in recent history. Government offices in the city also have been closed for a week. All examinations that were scheduled to be held this week have been postponed.