- Kerala has around 400 positive COVID-19 cases
- As of April 22, the state has reported three deaths due to COVID-19
- Kerala’s mortality rate is below 0.5% for coronavirus: Health Minister
New Delhi: On January 30, India’s first COVID-19 case was reported from Kerala. Then the number of cases rose steadily in the state, and it became a hotspot. By mid-March, the state was the second worst-hit state by COVID-19 after Maharashtra as per the state-wise data from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Today, two months later, half a dozen states are reporting more infections than Kerala. Moreover, the ‘Kerala Model’ is being talked around the country as a success story. As of April 22, the southern state has around 400 positive cases and has confirmed three deaths. NDTV speaks to State Health Minister KK Shailaja to know more about the proactive measures that have benefitted the state in flattening the curve of coronavirus.
Health Minister KK Shailaja said,
What Kerala did differently at an early stage and which has now proved to be beneficial for the state is that we followed a strict quarantine rule of 28-days instead of 14-days for the high-risk cases. When the symptoms of the infection in the patients started doubling up that’s when we started sending them to hospitals and took swab testing for COVID-19 infection instead of sending them all together, as then the chances of spreading the virus would have been more.
A strict lockdown was announced by the state on March 23, one day before the nation-wide lockdown was announced, schools, colleges and all social gatherings were banned.
Talking about the testing part and model the state has adopted, Health Minister KK Shailaja added,
We have, as of April 21, have sent more than 20,000 samples for testing for Coronavirus infection, of which, more than 19,000 have proved negative. Moreover, now, in the state, we are just not testing patients with travel history or who shows some kind of symptoms but also asymptomatic patients as well. Moreover, the state has set-up walk-in sample kiosk (Wisk) in some areas, which is the first of its kind in India, inspired by similar models deployed in South Korea, for mass collection of samples from people with symptoms for COVID-19. People can simply walk up to these booths and get throat swab test done. Apart from this to deal with the pandemic, throughout the state, we have kept over 1.2 lakh beds ready to admit patients. Of these, about 5,000 are ICU beds with ventilators.
In terms of hospitalisation and infrastructure, the state built an exclusive COVID-19 Hospital at the Kasaragod Medical College. The hospital was also converted to a Corona Care Hospital in just four days, with 200 beds and 10 ICU beds. Apart from this, currently, the state has 38 Corona Care Centres functioning. Moreover, the state government has also recently decided to convert all its houseboats in Alappuzha into isolation wards for COVID-19.
The health minister also said that these steps have made Kerala somewhat lower the graph of coronavirus. She added,
Coronavirus mortality rate in Kerala is below 0.5% but in the world, it is more than 5%. In some places, it is even more than 10%. We are continuously working to make more and more people recover from this deadly virus.
Not just these, in the wake of amid the nationwide lockdown, the state has decided to take other positive steps such as feeding the most vulnerable group so that no one stays hungry.
According to the government, the state is delivering free mid-day meals to the beneficiaries as the Anganwadi centres, schools and colleges across the state have been shut. Around 33,115 Anganwadi centres in Kerala, educating kids between the ages of 3 and 6, are delivering free mid-day meals to children at their homes, benefitting around 3.75 lakh Anganwadi kids.
The state government is also providing nutritional services to around 4.75 lakh children under 3 years of age, two lactating mothers and around 3 lakh pregnant women, reaching nearly 13.5 lakh people at home.
Along with this step, the government has also set up community kitchens across the state to cater to the weaker sections. The government is distributing 2.5 lakh to 2.8 lakh food packets every day