By flattening the curve, Kerala shows the way to rest of India

Sixty new cases were reported in Kerala last week, in contrast to 1,071 in Maharashtra and 566 in Delhi

Kerala
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Health Minister KK Shailaja Teacher. Photo: Facebook

More than a month before India adopted measures to tackle COVID-19, Kerala witnessed not one, but three positive cases. By the end of next month — February, the state had no positive case, with all three cases cured. When the next round of the coronavirus spread began on March 3, Kerala was the most affected state in the country.

More than one-third of India’s first 50 cases were reported in Kerala by March 12. After a month, the southern state is full of praise for containing the spread of the virus effectively. It has witnessed only two deaths, as of April 12, and more than one-third of patients have been discharged. Kerala has also been flattening the curve, with a decrease in the number of new cases every day.

A curve begins flattening if the percentage of increase in total confirmed cases declines. It happens only when the number of new cases reduce and can be achieved through social distancing. In the last few days, Kerala has been witnessing only a small rise in the number of new cases — mostly in single digits.

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For instance, last week — from April 6 to 12 — as many as 60 new cases were reported in Kerala. But Maharashtra witnessed 1,071 new cases in the seven days, while Delhi and Rajasthan saw 566 and 447 new cases respectively. Even the neighbouring Karnataka which on April 12 had 226 confirmed cases, in contrast to 374 in Kerala, saw 75 new cases last week.

However, Kerala had observed almost equal or higher rate of increase compared to these states in the previous weeks. Between March 30 and April 5, as many as 112 new cases were reported in Kerala. It was 114 in the previous week — from March 23 to 29. This clearly indicates that Kerala has been flattening the curve.

But how did the southern state achieve this? It has been taking various measures for the wellbeing of its people during the lockdown, ensuring that they do not step out of their houses. The government has launched 12 supermarkets on wheels to door deliver essentials and announced financial assistance for people, based on their jobs — ₹2,000 for fishers, and ₹1,000 for beedi workers and lottery-ticket sellers.

In fact, the state seems to be concerned about people in other states too. Recently, it allowed people from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to use medical facilities in Wayanad. The government has also set up helpdesks for non-resident Keralites.

More than all these, Kerala has been testing effectively than the rest of India. As of April 12, it has conducted 14,989 tests. The state has screened 0.4 per thousand people, much higher than the national average of 0.07. All credits go to the state government, led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and the healthcare system, headed by Health Minister KK Shailaja Teacher.

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