During these testing times, local governments and citizens must work together to avoid any escalation and potential damage that the Coronavirus may present. Kerala has been one of the few states that have undertaken exemplary work in containing the spread of the virus as of now. Others need to follow suit
One of the first states to have detected a case of the novel coronavirus in India in late January, Kerala had the highest number of cases for quite some time throughout February and early March 2020. However, with its proactive approach for containing the disease, Kerala became the first state in the country to flatten the curve of the coronavirus graph. The steps taken by the Government of Kerala have proven to be instructive for the central government, which had imposed the nationwide lockdown almost 4 weeks ago but continues to see an upward trend in the number of coronavirus cases across the country. A high population density and low literacy rates across the country are two factors that are contributing the most towards the continued growth of the disease. Kerala, being the state with the highest literacy rates and having the best-performing healthcare system in the country, had invested hugely and consistently in strengthening the public health services in the state, enabling its swift response to the disease
Reasons for success
Having invested largely in education and public health, the Government of Kerala already had an upper hand in dealing with the pandemic. However, the quick actions taken by the government greatly controlled the effect of the disease. Following the World Health Organisation’s guidelines of aggressive testing, tracing, containment and treatment right from the start helped Kerala stay ahead of other Indian states. Despite having an overwhelming influx of people from overseas destinations in the state throughout the year, the government’s decision to strictly impose screening at airports from February 10, and containment and treatment of those found coronavirus positive helped contain the spread of the disease from such travellers to the general public. Moreover, the state government also established temporary housing facilities and quarantine shelters to accommodate tourists and other non-residents. In order to provide for the migrant workers left stranded in the state due to the lockdown imposed by the centre, the state government also built community kitchens, ensured that these migrant workers had a place to stay throughout the lockdown and even guaranteed a monthly pay to those left without an income. Another factor contributing to the state’s success is its management and deployment of more than 30,000 primary and secondary healthcare workers across the state to carry out door-to-door testing and surveys to ensure that they are not experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19. The state government also deployed thousands of rapid testing kits and still continues to use them to test people residing in Covid-19 hotspots, despite the centre’s stand that mass testing for the disease is not a possibility in India. Kerala’s announcement of an economic package worth $2.6 billion was aimed at stabilizing the falling economy of the state and to ensure that the state government is easily able to revive it in the postlockdown period. The state government also liaised with internet service providers to increase internet speed at homes and has promised an advance pension of two months to the elderly. Whether it is a migrant worker or a tourist, a common man or an industrialist, the steps taken by the Government of Kerala cover each and every one. This clearly indicates that apart from successfully controlling the pandemic by taking strict measures, the government made sure that these measures were humane and took care of the needs of everyone present in the state.