Union Health Minister JP Nadda on Tuesday held a high-level meeting to review the relief work in Kerala and said that no outbreak of communicable disease has been reported so far. At least 223 people have lost their lives in the rains, floods and landslides in the state since August 8 and more than 360 people since May 29.

“The outbreak [of disease] situation is being monitored on a daily basis and the strategic health operation centre has been activated,” he was quoted as saying in a statement released by the ministry.

Nadda said he was personally monitoring the situation and was in regular touch with Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja and other state health functionaries.

The ministry said that the Indian Air Force on Tuesday supplied 65 metric tonnes of essential emergency drugs to Thiruvananthapuram. The ministry will also meet the requirement of 4 crore chlorine tablets in phases, with 1 crore of them being dispatched on Tuesday. Twenty metric tonnes of bleaching powder have also been dispatched by road.

Nadda said that the National Centre for Disease Control has issued health advisories to support the state in meeting the post-flood public health management. Teams of public health experts, specialist doctors, and NCDC were ready for deployment.

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Finance in a statement said that the government has extended the last date for filing of Goods and Services Tax returns by taxpayers in Kerala, Puducherry’s Mahe, and Karnataka’s Kodagu in view of the disruption caused by the floods. The ministry has also decided to waive off customs duty and Integrated Goods and Service Tax on the relief materials being imported to help out people.

The Centre on Tuesday released Rs 600 crore for the state, said the Union Home Ministry in a statement. Of this, Rs 500 crore was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the remaining by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Rescue work on

Forty-one teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in Kerala to help the state administration carry out rescue and relief work, reported ANI. On Tuesday, the teams in the districts of Idukki, Kottayam, and Pathanamthtitta rescued 122 persons.

Medical teams of the NDRF have also set up camps in Alappuzha and Thrissur, where they provided assistance to 104 people, reported ANI. In an operation, the NDRF also rescued 535 people, evacuated 24,616, and rescued 119 livestock.

Transport back on track

All railway tracks damaged by the floods in Kerala have been repaired, said the Indian Railways in a statement on Tuesday, adding that traffic was back to normal. The Railways will arrange free transport of flood relief materials to all stations in Kerala till August 31. “Railway team worked with dedication round the clock to clear hurdles in the flood-hit sections and all sections in the main route of Kerala were opened,” said the ministry.

Union minister Suresh Prabhu said all airlines to Kerala have been advised to freeze fares at a particular level, reported ANI. “We have set up a 24/7 helpline in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and all related complaints will be addressed,” said the minister of civil aviation. “If there are complaints about airlines not following that, passengers are requested to contact the DGCA.”

Devotees asked to not visit Sabarimala

Authorities have asked devotees of Ayyappa to abstain from visiting Sabarimala for Onam festival as flood waters in the Pampa river are yet to recede, reported PTI. The Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the hill shrine, said roads in nearby areas have been damaged and several trees uprooted.

The path to the shrine was overflowing with mud, which would make the trek uphill very dangerous, said the TDB. The temple will open for Onam festivities on August 23 and close on August 28.