After new advisory, Kodagu takes up task of testing all Kerala returnees

Those who came after February 2 must give their swab samples at nearest govt. hospital for mandatory RT-PCR test

After the State government issued new guidelines on testing for those coming from Kerala, the task before the districts is challenging, especially with those that share borders with the neighbouring State, as Kerala returnees in the last two weeks have to be compulsorily tested as a precaution to control the spread.

Kodagu shares its border with Kerala and the district administration has its task cut out since many had travelled to the district before the new guidelines were issued.

As per the new guidelines, all those coming from Kerala to the State were supposed to carry a negative RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours. Also, those who have come from Kerala since February 2, have to undergo the COVID-19 test compulsorily unless they have the negative test report.

Kodagu District Health Officer K. Mohan on Thursday said those who had returned from Kerala since last two weeks have been asked to provide their swab samples to the nearest government healthcare centers for the mandatory RT-PCR test. Workers, students, students staying in residential schools and colleges, and others who had returned to Kodagu from Kerala have to take the swab test that has been made mandatory by the government, he added.

Sources in the Health Department said the guidelines had been issued for controlling the spread of the infection from Kerala where more fresh cases are being reported. The pandemic is under control in border districts including Kodagu. The task is to prevent the infection from spreading and therefore the negative test report has been compulsory, they add.

The question is how many of those who returned recently will volunteer for the test.

Before the new guidelines, hotels, homestays and resorts in Kodagu have been told to request tourists from Kerala to get tested for COVID-19 in case they have any symptoms before visiting the district for sightseeing as a safety precaution.

Since the district was by and large free from the cases, the district Health Department wanted to ensure total control of the pandemic. In this connection, the hospitality industry’s support was sought and it agreed to comply, apprising the Kerala guests on the situation.

Many tourists from Kerala were thronging Kodagu, the tourist hub, after the curbs were lifted. Although the Kodagu tourism industry is yet to recover fully from the impact of the pandemic, there are signs of recovery.

The homestays and resorts were of late seeing improvement in the occupancy, and they had 100 per cent occupancy during New Year celebrations and nearly 20-40 per cent of the guests were from Kerala, sources in the sector said.

The advisory on tourists was aimed at controlling the pandemic as the district took strict measures to bring the cases under full control, said Dr. Mohan.

Kodagu Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants’ Association President Nagendra Prasad said the association members had agreed to implement the advisory in the interest of the district which successfully fought the pandemic all these months.

“We too don’t want the cases to return. The cases have dropped to single digits and we hope the cases will hit zero soon. Therefore, we advised our guests to get the tests done if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 after spurt in cases in Kerala. At the time of booking, the guests were informed and those who have already booked are told about the mandatory testing before coming to the district,” he said.

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