Grit and compassion: How women are tackling strongman-led COVID-19 fight

Shailaja Teacher, Beela Rajesh, Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern
Women leaders have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, and it has borne successful results for all to see. | Image - Eunice Dhivya

When India went into lockdown in March, the country had 500-odd COVID-19 cases. Kerala, which was the first place in India to have a coronavirus case, accounted for a significant chunk of the pie with a little over 100 cases. It was neck and neck with Maharashtra and even ranked first on some days early on in the lockdown.

That was till March 31. The state then started falling back in a race that none wanted to win. About two months down, in a relaxed lockdown, Kerala has recorded 1,004 cases as on May 27, of which only 446 are active. That is about 0.6% of the total 1.51 lakh cases in the country as against the 20% it accounted for on March 25. From a topper, it has come down to 17th on the charts. Maharashtra on the other hand has continued to maintain its top position, with a third of the total cases in the country.

Kerala’s low numbers are being paraded as a model for the country and the world, on social media and traditional ones. But behind the stoic stats are the strict but efficient lockdown measures taken by the state government, in association with thousands of healthcare workers and cooperative public. And at the helm of the whole action is a woman who has attained worldwide fame for managing the whole process — Shailaja KK, or Shailaja Teacher, the Minister for Health, Social Justice & Women and Child Development, Kerala.

Not one to rest on her laurels, the minister is said to have taken early cue about the virus that started in Wuhan, China, and started preparations. Dr Janaradhana Naik CH, consultant at General Hospital, Kasargod, a northern district in Kerala, says in early January, much before the world knew that a pandemic wave was set to take over, Shailaja had cautioned doctors like him.

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