Coronavirus: How Kerala is 'flattening the curve'
Kerala was notably the first Indian state to report a case of coronavirus infection and remained one of the worst-hit regions in the early stages of the outbreak. Now, nearly 10 states report more coronavirus cases than Kerala, where the outbreak has slowed to the extent that the number of recovered cases surpasses the number of active cases. Here's what Kerala did right.
Even in the early stages of the outbreak, Kerala took the issue seriously and started aggressive testing and contact tracing. The government also released route maps detailing the contact history of each COVID-19 patient. Once identified, the contacts of infected persons were placed under medical observation. Kerala also set up "corona care homes" near its four international airports to house suspected cases after screening.
Kerala also started closing schools early on and imposed a state-wide lockdown a day before the nationwide lockdown was announced. Community kitchens were set up and the government also started delivering essential commodities door-to-door and free food to the needy. Now, everyone in the state has to observe an extended 28-day quarantine. Kerala's Alappuzha district has decided to turn houseboats into isolation wards.
Although having India's highest literacy rate is an advantage, Kerala also took raising awareness against COVID-19 seriously. Videos of Kerala cops teaching proper handwash routines went viral. The government promoted its 'Break The Chain' campaign through a series of videos. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Health Minister KK Shailaja—better known as Shailaja Teacher—held regular, detailed press conferences, allowing little space for rumor-mongering.
Till March 30, Maharashtra and Kerala had reported 216 and 213 COVID-19 cases respectively. While Maharashtra's cases have sky-rocketed to 3,000, Kerala's cases have only reached 394, with seven new cases reported today. Of the seven new cases, five had recent foreign travel history while two cases involved local transmission. Further, Kerala's 394 cases include 147 active cases (37%) and 245 recovered cases (62%).
Kerala has also reported only two deaths. A 71-year-old who died in Kannur was assigned to Puducherry, where the deceased hailed from. India's oldest COVID-19 survivor—aged 93—also hailed from Kerala. Shailaja said Thursday that Kerala's mortality rate stood below 0.5%, which is much lower than the national 3.3%. Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said Sunday that the state's COVID-19 curve had "started to flatten."