Kerala has succeeded in flattening the COVID-19 curve. Heres how
There is a steady and gradual decline in the number of people under observation and quarantine in Kerala. Photo: PTI

Kerala has succeeded in flattening the COVID-19 curve. Here's how

The day of Easter was the day of resurrection for Kerala. After 100 days of battle, Kerala recorded the lowest number of new cases on Easter - only two. The number of survivors was 36.

The day of Easter was the day of resurrection for Kerala. After 100 days of battle, Kerala recorded the lowest number of new cases on Easter – only two. The number of survivors was 36.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan greeted a peaceful Easter to all in his 6 pm briefing on April 11. “Easter brings us the message of survival. There is indeed a bright morning of survival beyond the times of affliction. The entire world is passing through a difficult time and the message of Easter gives us the strength to survive.”

However, for Kerala, his Easter greetings seem to have become real. There is a steady and gradual decline in the number of people under observation and quarantine. The figures over the last ten days give sufficient ground to believe that Kerala has begun flattening the COVID-19 curve.

Compared to other states, Kerala has several factors that worked as an advantage for the state to achieve this. The early detection of the virus, increased testing, aggressive contact tracing, quarantine and isolation from the very first positive case, a robust primary health care system that has evolved over decades with a strong network of healthcare workers, transparency and accountability, a brilliant and efficient political leadership are some of the factors that keep Kerala distinct.

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Till April 12, Kerala has registered 375 cases out of which 179 have been cured and tested negative. The active cases stand at only 194 and the death toll is two. Till date, 14,989 samples have been sent for testing and 13,802 tested negative. The number of people under quarantine has come down to 1,16,941. It stood at 1,64,130 on 1st April.

Around 1,400 community kitchens are currently functional across 1,032 local bodies in the state. Cooked meals are supplied to whoever in need, not confined to BPL families but also to those who are not able to cook by themselves, like the sick and the old. Kerala has the largest number of camps — around 18,554 camps as of now — which accommodate 3,30,142 migrant workers.

The Kerala government takes good care of migrant workers for two reasons. A Left government’s deeds and capacity are measured not by of the capital investment it brought to the state, but by the measures taken for the welfare of the people and the signs of humanity shown to its people. A voting community in Kerala would consider how its government treated the non-voting community, in this case, migrant workers. Immense social pressure and public outcry can be witnessed whenever there is an incident of discrimination reported against migrant workers.

Meanwhile, State Health Minister K K Shailaja does not seem to think this is now the time to relax. “It is true that we have started reaping the fruits of our collective hard work, but we have to continue the extra vigilance and high alert. Though the number of cases has come down in the state, it is a cause of worry that the situation in our neighboring states is not improving,” she said. She also elaborated on how Kerala has showed the way for others to follow. “We prepared 1,000 beds when we were in need of only ten. We were able to provide the best quality treatment to patients and start more number of COVID care hospitals.”

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Kerala currently has ten testing labs. According to the office of the Health Minister, an average of 900 tests are being done in 24 hours. COVID isolation hospitals have been set up in all districts to ensure that even foreigners who do not have a place of stay in Kerala are taken care of. Control rooms and help line numbers are functional in all district centres.

Exclusive helpline numbers have been set up for migrant workers and people speaking different languages have been employed to attend calls. Psychosocial support centers are functional for women and children who might face domestic violence. Counselling and care support are being provided for those who have withdrawal problems due to the non-availability of liquor.

Transparency and accountability are the two key aspects Kerala appears to be focusing on. The daily briefing by the Chief Minister seems to have helped keep a fine balance between scare and care. Since people were kept well-informed and updated on the spread of the virus by Chief Minister himself on a daily basis, there was no panic but only vigilance.

The government could successfully curtail the deluge of fake news as well. The people of the state, even the critics of the Chief Minister, waited eagerly for the 6 pm briefing. The 6 pm slot has become the most popular programme for all Malayalam television channels, if one went by the ratings.

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The briefing, which often goes on for forty to fifty minutes including the Q&A, comprehensively covers the policies, decisions, and welfare measures taken to deal with the pandemic.

The Chief Minister would announce the daily updates of positive cases and number of survivors, the number of people under quarantine — both at home and at hospitals — with district-wise data on all new updates.

“How caring is this man” has become the most popular tagline in Malayalam social media. He talks about everything including what matters to expats, migrant workers, and street-dwellers and even about providing water and food to street dogs.

The entire Malayali diaspora across the globe has been watching Pinarayi’s briefing. The live briefing on Facebook has an average number of 4 lakh viewers. The opposition Congress, on the other hand, is trying to create the impression that the Chief Minister’s daily press meet is a PR gimmick. However, this opinion appears to have been dismissed by the people.

The international media praising the Kerala model of healthcare seems to have shattered the opposition party’s expectations of coming back to power next year.

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