Can't open borders for Kasaragod, Karnataka govt tells Kerala HC

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Kasaragod: The Karnataka government on Tuesday clarified that it will not open the interstate border for critically ill patients from Kasaragod amid the nationwide lockdown.

The Karnataka government stated the same to the Kerala High Court during a hearing conducted by the court through video conferencing.

The rising number of COVID-19 cases in Kasaragod and the conversion of Mangaluru hospitals to COVID-19 health care centres is the reason for the same, the government clarified.

The state government also informed the court that two interstate roads from Wayanad to Karnataka-- Sulthan Bathery-Gundelpet road, Manathavadi-Sirgur-Mysur road--will remain open during the lockdown. Karnataka also expressed willingness to open the Iritti-Coorg-Mysore road if the Kannur district collector gives a request to this effect. The state however, clarified that it was unwilling to open the Kasaragod-Mangaluru road in the current scenario.

Meanwhile, the Kerala HC has instructed the Karnataka government to provide the names of the two Manguluru hospitals which can provide necessary treatment to critically ill patients.

The Kerala High Court had on Monday sought the views of the Advocate General of Karnataka on the issue of the government of the neighbouring state blocking its borders with Kerala.

Considering a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Kerala High Court Advocates Association, seeking a direction for opening the roads, a bench comprising Justices A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Shaji P Chali requested the Advocate General of Karnataka to join the hearing on Tuesday through video conferencing.

The Court orally observed that the blockades erecting embankments on the inter-state roads would affect the people's right to life.

The Karnataka government had blocked the state highway with to prevent movement of vehicles carrying essential goods and people seeking emergency treatment at hospitals in the city of Mangalore bordering Kasaragod.

With 97 infected patients, Kasaragod has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in Kerala. 7,437 people are under observation in the district.

Three more lives lost on Monday

Two more Kasaragod natives lost their lives on Monday due to blockade of the interstate border by Karnataka police in the wake of outbreak of novel coronavirus.

They could not get emergency health care as the Karnataka police stopped the ambulance carrying them to a hospital in Mangaluru at the border.

Another critically-ill person, who was sent back by Manguluru hospital authorities on March 23 for being a Kasaragod native, also died on Monday.

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This is the fifth such case in many days.

The deceased are Madhavan, 50, Ayesha, 55 and Aziz Haji, 61 respectively.

All three of them lived near the Karnataka border.

Madhavan, who hailed from Thummanattu in Manjeswaram, died enroute to Kanhangad hospital after being denied entry to cross over to Karnataka. He had an acute bronchial attack.

Udyavar native Ayesha, an asthma patient, was referred to the Mangaluru Hospital by the hospital authorities at Uppali. When the authorities stopped her at the border, she was taken to the Kanhangad hospital. However, she died before reaching the hospital.

Aziz Haji, from Nayabazar Cherugoli MA Cottage at Uppala, was allegedly refused entry into a Manguluru Hospital on March 23 on account of being a Kasaragod native. Haji was a dialysis patient at the hospital. “We were unable to contact his doctor at the time,” his relatives said. Haji, who was on the ventilator, lost his life Monday morning.

Kunjathoor native Abdul Hameed and Bandwal native Fathima also lost their lives due to the closing of the interstate border.

The district authorities has appealed to the Government to intervene in the matter and influence Karnataka as to lift a ban in crossing over for ambulances carrying critical patients.

The people of Kasaragod are largely dependent on the medical facilities in Mangaluru for critical illness care.

The Kasaragod MP, Rajmohan Unnithan has approached the Supreme court against this. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has already taken up the issue with the Centre.

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