- ASHA workers, police, health inspectors are Kerala’s coronavirus warriors
- These warriors visit 25-30 houses everyday to check on people in quarantine
- Kerala is witnessing a spike in COVID-19 cases as residents have come back
New Delhi: Kerala is witnessing a sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 cases as more non-resident Keralites are returning home, Kerala government has said in a statement. It further said that over 70,000 people have returned to the state in the last few weeks, and around 85 per cent of them are from other states. In order to help control these increasing number of cases, Kerala has tasked 26,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA workers), police, health inspectors, and local self-government bodies across the state, to follow-up daily with each person who has returned and IS currently in quarantine.
This army of foot soldiers are being lauded and labelled as the ‘coronavirus warriors of Kerala’.
Coronavirus warriors, Bindu R and Girija Kumari R are ASHA workers and visit 25-30 houses every day, including those under quarantine due to COVID-19. One of the ASHA Workers, Girija told NDTV that her family is worried for her, she said,
My mother is scared for me. She calls me and cries every day. But my husband and daughter say, whatever happens, we are in it together.
While Bindu, a mother of two says they are ready for anything, she said,
COVID-19 duty is hard. We have to submit updates only after we go to the location of the different people in quarantine. We then follow-up with calls. Initially, we were scared because we have children at home. But now we ready for anything.
Contact tracing in Kerala is done both physically – visiting people under quarantine and also through phone calls, ensuring regular updates. These warriors visit the houses and ask them if any family member has symptoms like cough, fever.
For most of the ASHA workers, the work related to COVID-19 is an additional duty to their regular work like checking on pregnant women, elderly and even pre-monsoon awareness drives about possible diseases. Health Inspector SS Minu explained,
Every health circle has been given a log-in ID. We have to confirm whether the concerned person is following quarantine rule or not, every single day.
It’s not just the health workers, thousands of police personnel in Kerala, who have been on the forefront of strictly enforcing the lockdown, during the earlier stages, continue to ensure quarantine rules are followed on the ground. The rules include maintenance of social distance and wearing masks along with ensuring people are not stepping out unless necessary. Circle Inspector Anil Kumar told NDTV,
We visit people, call people. We ask them if they need anything. If they need food or any provisions. We give them our numbers. And we also ensure that they are in their homes. These are unprecedented times, and we are doing what we can to protect people.
The on-ground work being done by the coronavirus warriors in Kerala has earned them many admirers. One of the Kerala residents who is in home quarantine Arvind Soju, in a video, said,
I’ve been in institutional quarantine ever since I got back from Chennai, and now I’m in strict home quarantine. My day starts with a call from ASHA workers enquiring about my health and asking me if I need any kind of support. I think at these times, such calls give immense confidence and a feeing that we don’t have to worry about anything.
Kerala’s model on fighting the COVID-19 were lauded by Indian Council for Medical Research which said it would “continue referring to the Kerala model” for testing and containment strategies. Government data shows that COVID-19 cases in Kerala’s was always under control and well below the rate of infection level of 1. The cases, however, saw a spurt after May 12, which can be attributed to the international and interstate travellers entering the state and testing positive for COVID-19.