India has seen a sharp increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the last two weeks, with the official number now at 107. As the number of cases rises, people as a preventative measure are buying face masks in large quantities, leading to a huge shortage. Amidst this, the Kerala government has come up with a unique way to deal with the mask shortage.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinararyi Vijayan on Saturday tweeted that his government had come up with a solution to the problem. The CPI(M) government in Kerala has deployed convicted prisoners in state prisons to manufacture masks, thus maintaining a steady supply, he said.
Tweeting pictures of the first batch of face masks manufactured by the prisoners at Thiruvananthapuram Jail, the CM said, "In light of the shortage, directions were given to engage the prisons in the state in manufacturing masks. He added the manufacturing of the masks has started on a "war footing basis".
#COVID19 | Solving The Mask Problem 😷
In light of the shortage, directions were given to engage the prisons in the State in manufacturing masks. It has commenced on a war footing basis. Today, the Prison officials of Thiruvananthapuram Jail have handed over the first batch. pic.twitter.com/QKgHWqYNOg- Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) March 14, 2020
Kerala has imployed manufacturing units in several state prisons. According to The Economic Times, the Kerala government has also attempted to increase the supply of hand sanitisers with the help of Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals (KSDP). The KSDP is expected to produce 10 lakh bottles of hand sanitisers in the next 10 days.
On January 30, Kerala became the first state in India to report a positive coronavirus case. Within a few days, two more cases popped up. All three were treated and discharged from hospitals by February 3.
The second wave of fresh cases started in March first week, a month after the first three cases. As of Sunday, 22 positive cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Kerala, the most in any state after Maharashtra. Among the cases is a 3-year-old boy who was confirmed positive on March 9. The virus has already claimed two lives in India.
According to the Health Ministry of Kerala currently, there are 7,677 people under observation for symptoms of coronavirus. The state government has opened care centres near airports for the screening of new arrivals. The state is also arranging facilities where a large number of people can be isolated for 14 days. Across the world, around 1,50,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed and the virus has claimed over 5,800 lives.