Kerala – the coastal, southern state of India is pioneering in the battle to defeat COVID-19 in the nation. India’s first COVID-19 case was detected in Kerala back in January. Now, in June, while cases continue to escalate in the rest of the country, Kerala has managed to flatten the curve. Under the leadership of Kerala’s Health Minister – K.K. Shailaja, the state swiftly arranged screenings, aggressive testing, and contact-tracing.
Shortly after China reported the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, the state of Kerala anticipated an epidemic and commenced its preparation. Since many students from Kerala are studying in Wuhan, the possible infection was expected from their return. In 2018, Kerala dealt with the sudden emergence of the Nipah Virus. Based on that experience, the state already had an effective strategy in place for the current pandemic. A “Rapid Reaction Team” was resourced towards screening at the airport for passengers from abroad, temporary isolation ward and community surveillance system. Within a few days, the first three cases were detected. “It was comprehensive planning, well in advance. We started planning when Wuhan started reported Coronavirus cases in January. Because of timely measures, we could tackle the three cases from Wuhan successfully, by not allowing any spread”, said K.K Shailaja.
By March, a few days before the national lockdown, Kerala imposed a state-wide lockdown. Schools, workspaces and religious establishments were shut. Social gatherings were banned and compulsory physical distancing was implemented. Thousands of people were isolated across Kerala. The government announced an INR 20,000 crore (USD 2,61,893) coronavirus relief package. It caters mostly to the essential needs of people from poor economic backgrounds. Free food kits and rations were delivered to people’s doorstep by social workers and hundreds of volunteers.
Meanwhile, the state continued testing high-risk people. Any symptomatic person was immediately shifted to a hospital, the rest were appealed to quarantine strictly for 28 days. Helplines were set up in all the districts. Specialized teams comprising of public healthcare experts, police officers, representatives in local self-governments, and officials in district administrations were deployed for aggressive contract-tracing to limit community transmission. Test results were yielded within forty-eight hours. The rapid pace and efficiency in working helped to limit the infections. The government launched the “Break The Chain” campaign to spread awareness about social distancing and personal hygiene to the citizens. Native celebrities also promoted the campaign to reinforce its importance to the public.
The state sustains its recovery rate even after the return of its expatriate population mostly from Middle Eastern countries. Kerala has a robust healthcare system and secure treatment services, along with a dedicated team of doctors and nurses. Specialist doctors, virologists, disaster management experts, software professionals, hospital administrators, former civil servants, and retired defense personnel are monitoring every spectrum of the disease to attain a more focused approach. The Kerala Model has proved to be a reiterating success.
Featured Image Via The Hindu.