How Kerala bend the COVID-19 curve

The state was an early verdict of the novel coronavirus, but tackled the pandemic effectively

Published: Monday 27 April 2020

Kerala was the first state in India to report a case positive to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) on January 30, 2020. In fact, during the initial days of the outbreak in the country, the state accounted for the most cases.

With time, however, the southernmost state has managed to put the brakes on the pandemic. the state was at No.13 on the statewise tally of COVID-19 cases. The state has recorded a high rate of recoveries — at 74 per cent — and a low rate of mortality — four people have died among 458 cases (as of April 27 morning).

It has an expatriate population of 2.5 million people and a high population density of 819 people per square kilometre — factors that add to the risk of community transmission. But a strong and decentralised public healthcare system with good community participation helped.

Kerala tested for the virus aggressively — 21,000 tested by April 23 — and traced contacts of those found positive better than many states.

More than 24,000 people were quarantined either at their homes or at designated centres. Secluded COVID-19 wards were prepared at hospitals. The state started on social distancing from January 30 and promoted a ‘break the chain’ social campaign.

On February 18, Kerala appointed a  committee of 17 experts from various fields which recommended phasing out the lockdown in three stages. The state built a volunteer team of 250,000 people.

They assist paramedical staff, doctors and other social aid workers. On march 26, the state opened more than 18000 camps for labourers and it provided food and medicine for nearly 300,000 people. 

It also started community kitchens which home delivers food in the community level. Kerala had the experience of containing virus outbreaks like Zika and Nipah in past which help it to establish a pandemic protocol. 

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