Kerala on Monday declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a “state calamity” hours after the third positive case of infection was reported from the state, NDTV reported. These are the only positive cases reported so far in India.

The Kerala government took the decision after the apex committee of the State Disaster Management Authority met Chief Secretary Tom Jose in Thiruvananthapuram, The Hindu reported. “The announcement is not meant to scare people,” state Health Minister KK Shailaja said. “It is to help take proactive steps to intensify the steps to contain the spread of the virus.”

The state health department said 2,239 travellers from China and other countries not affected by the coronavirus were under observation. Of this lot, 2,155 were in isolation at home, and 84 people were in hospitals with isolation facilities.

The first positive case in Kerala was reported on January 30 in Thrissur district while the second was reported in Alappuzha. The third patient is being treated in Kanhangad District Hospital in Kasaragod district.

The novel coronavirus originated in a live seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, and the first infection was reported last month. It has killed at least 361 people in China itself, and spread to more than 20 countries. The number of new confirmed infections in China has soared to 17,205. The first death outside China was reported in the Philippines on Saturday.

Last week, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency. Several countries have banned flights to and from China, restricted travel, and in some cases, closed their borders with the country.

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