New Delhi/ Trivandrum: Kerala model of defeating the Covid-19 cases was something that attracted the world attention till the last month. Even the WHO praised the co-ordinated movement of this small South Indian state in curbing the number of cases while most of the other states in India were helplessly watching people getting infected.
“But the situation in Kerala has reversed”, said Soutik Biswas, BBC’s India-correspondent. The last couple of weeks saw a spiking increase in the confirmed cases, death toll also relatively surged. The capital city and the coastal areas in many districts are facing community spread, as confirmed by the Chief Minister Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan. “When the borders were closed, the spread was minimum. But when Kerala opened the borders for the expats, the spread happened and reached to the current stage”, quoted Lal Sadasivan, an epidemiologist based on Washington.
Earlier statistics in Kerala
Kerala was the first Indian state to report Covid-19 infection, when a student from Wuhan returned to his home town in Thrissur district. But what the world saw from there, was a strict and co-ordinated work from the Health department under the Health Minister Ms. Shailaja, who was later honoured by BBC who aired a live-talk with her. While all the other Indian states reported hundreds of cases per day, Kerala had three continuous days in April with no any reported cases.
It took 100 days for Kerala to reach the first 1000 confirmed cases. But now for the past week, the daily reported cases are in 800s. On Tuesday, the cases reported were 1,038 with 728 cases by contact-spread. Out of this, 56 cases had no known contact history. Total death due to Covid is 43, till now.
Reasons for the spread
Statistics say that 17 per cent of employees and workers in Kerala are employed outside – either other states or in foreign countries. As a result, when the Indian government gave a green flag for the return of expats, there was a massive return of people to Kerala airports. Interstate traffic was also very prominent, especially from Covid’s heavily hit regions like Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai.
Bad timing of lock-down
The central government declared national lock-down due to Covid on 22nd of March. But foreign flights were not allowed to land in India, during the lock-down, thinking that the lock-down combined with holding the international arrival would curb the spread. But, due to widespread protests and warnings from other nations, Indian government resumed the arrival of Indians from other countries, only at the last days of the national lock-down. So, when people went outside after the lock-down, they had to mingle with the returned expats. This badly timed lock-down was another reason for Kerala’s Covid spread.
Complaints about low test rate
While the cases were low during April and May, many health workers pointed out that the number of Covid tests were drastically reduced. When expats returned, then also the government did not take steps to increase the number of tests. This might have given a false relief for the people that many of them never minded to keep up the proper safety measures.
Still Kerala is fighting
Although the Covid cases are exponentially rising, the dedication of the health workers in the state is praiseworthy. Still Kerala is one of the states with the least Covid death rate. The hospitals are not yet over crowded with patients. Covid care centers are set up in a systematic way. Patient tracking is assisted both digitally as well as with man power.
The government hopes to put up another lock-down in the coming days in a vision to curb the cases and stop the spread.