Indians wearing masks stand next to a signage that urges people to wash their hands and wear masks to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic in Kerala.(AP)
Indians wearing masks stand next to a signage that urges people to wash their hands and wear masks to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic in Kerala.(AP)

Covid-19: In Kerala, hundreds rush to apply for 25 vacancies of temporary healthcare workers, nurses

The incident is an indication of people’s desperation for a job amid a deepening economic crisis because of the pandemic.
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | By Ramesh Babu
UPDATED ON MAY 30, 2020 06:04 PM IST

Around 800 people flocked to Kerala’s Kottayam district at the crack of dawn on Saturday while responding to an advertisement put out by a state-run district hospital inviting candidates for a walk-in-interview to fill 25-odd vacancies of temporary healthcare workers, including nurses, because of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Hapless hospital authorities had to call for police reinforcements to rein in the teeming job aspirants.

Later, the interviews were cancelled and the police dispersed the crowd with an announcement that these posts would be filled following a written test and other formalities.

Kottayam district collector has sought an explanation from the hospital authorities, as the botched-up walk-in-interview has snowballed into a controversy.

The incident is an indication of people’s desperation for a job amid a deepening economic crisis because of the pandemic.

“I reached Kottayam a day before and put up at a friend’s house to appear for the interview. I’m working in a private hospital for a paltry salary for the last three years. I was hoping to get a substantial raise even though it’s a temporary job,” said Reena Abraham. Abraham (28) had travelled from Kochi to appear for the interview and was in tears when the police asked her to leave the hospital premises.

“We never expected such a massive rush of job aspirants for the walk-in-interview. Healthcare workers have to work in Covid-19 wards for 14 days and then undergo mandatory quarantine for a similar number of days. We need more healthcare workers on a temporary basis to overcome the staff shortage,” said Jacob Verghese, medical officer, Kottayam.

“The new schedule for the job interviews will be announced later,” he added.

Kerala has an official unemployment rate of 9.43%, as compared to the national average of 6.1%. But, 80% of the unemployed, or around 36 lakhs, in the state are educated, unlike other parts of the country.

The unemployment crisis is so acute that many post-graduates and Ph.D. degree holders had applied for a state public service commission advertisement two years ago that had sought applications to fill up a few vacancies for Group D employees

The crisis is likely to deepen further, as many people from Kerala have started returning to their native state from some of the oil-rich West Asian countries after being laid off because of sliding crude oil prices and the economic impact due to the viral outbreak.

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