Coronavirus: Other states can learn from Kerala
Kerala’s response to the coronavirus — there are three confirmed cases in the state — has been so comprehensive and swift that other states have been asking it to share its protocols with them. The system put in place after the nipah outbreak, which claimed 17 lives in the state, was seamless and multi-tiered. Its first line of defence against contagious diseases involves immigration officials, the police, the panchayats and local health volunteers, and, of course, health professionals. There is a robust awareness campaign. Around 2,239 individuals are under surveillance for coronavirus and 84 are in hospitals. A tracking system monitors everyone coming into the state from high-risk destinations and also those who have come into contact with suspected cases.
Kerala’s health ministry has linked its five airports to ambulances and emergency response wards in district hospitals. Any passenger with symptoms entering from an airport or seaport is shifted to a linked hospital and medical officers contacted, following which the family members are alerted. This is the only way to contain the rapidly spreading virus. It helps that the state’s enviable primary health care system has constantly upgraded itself. Paramedics have been trained to deal with emergencies, as also a host of workers involved in the health system from drivers to cleaners. The state’s battle against the nipah virus was recognised as an exemplar. With the coronavirus threat looming large, other states must learn from Kerala.