Kerala, the southernmost state of India is making another epoch-making event through its COVID-19 management campaign named ‘Break the Chain.’ Kerala Health Minister Shailaja Teacher announced this program, emphasizing the significance of keeping personal hygiene to protect the entire community from the Covid-19 attack. The state has 21 positive cases of COVID-19 as of March 16, 2020. Kerala Model Covid-19 Management had already gained worldwide attention when it successfully dealt with and cured the first 3 patients reported positive in India.
What is ‘Break the Chain’ campaign in Kerala?
‘Break the Chain’ campaign intends to minimize the spread of the virus with early surveillance and community support. The campaign encourages people to make personal hygiene as a healthy habit and wash their hands and face whenever they are in contact with others outside. This can break the chain of virus infection.
The minister appeared in media, cleansing her hand with a hand rub solution. As per the program, the government will set up hand hygiene facilities and solutions wherever possible across public places. This will include bus stations, rail stations, apartments, malls, and all such places of public exposure. Once people cleanse their hands occasionally, the chances of virus spread will be minimal. The minister requested the public to initiate such facilities their own instead of waiting for official intervention.
What is Kerala Model Covid-19 Management?
The first case of COVID-19 in Kerala was reported on January 30, 2020. Within a few days, two more cases were reported, and all the three patients were students returned from China. Kerala’s health ministry prepared well for confronting the challenge as soon as it listened to the news of the new coronavirus outbreak in China. The state has had managed a few episodes of virus attacks and natural calamities recently, including the deadly Nipah and two floods of consecutive years, 2018 and 2019.
See below, an awareness campaign shot by the Kerala State Police Media Centre
The state attained international media coverage for its intelligent way of epidemic management at the time of the Nipah attack. With its minimal resources and experiences, Kerala overcame the attack of the deadly disease two times. This experience has helped the state to confront the new coronavirus as well.
Kerala model Covid-19 management mainly involves the following strategies.
- Isolation: Almost all public health centers have set up special wards to isolate positive COVID-19 cases or patients with symptoms. This technique prevents further spread of the disease.
- Helpline: The healthcare department launched a helpline, DISHA (Direct Intervention System For Health Awareness), to update the situation and answer queries. Anyone with notable symptoms can call DISHA that works round the clock. DISHA comprises of trained social workers and counselors. It answers questions about COVID-19 not only from across Kerala but also from other Indian states and foreign counties. DISHA Toll-free number: 1056. Website: http://disha1056.com/
- Tracing/Tracking: The department, coupled with other governmental bodies and non-governmental organizations, traces the victim’s direct and indirect contacts. The officials will take them all to isolation wards or instructs them to keep themselves isolated at home until the incubation period ends.
- Publishing route map: Once a case is reported positive, the officials collect the details of the patient’s travel and publish a route map. This will help people who might have come in contact with the person somewhere to be vigilant.
- Restriction of gathering: The state has officially restricted all public gatherings. It shut down cinemas, resorts, and gyms, and restricted entry to beaches and parks. The government has requested all religious centers to cancel their programs until it resolves the issue.
- School shut down: The state has already announced the closure of schools up to upper primary classes. The government reminds the parents and children not to count the days as their vacation for roaming around. Instead, they are asked to stay indoors to avoid public contact.
- Meals at home: The government has made sure that children who were supposed to get their mid-day meals at Anganwadis (a type of rural child care center in India) now get it at home on time.
- Zero cost treatment: A patient with coronavirus symptoms can avail tests and treatment for free. Moreover, the department has instructed people not to go directly to any hospital if they have symptoms. All they need to do is to contact their nearest primary health center or other concerned centers. An ambulance with sufficient protective measures will shift the patient from their home to an isolated ward. The person will get further observation and treatment there.
- Voluntary groups: Several non-profit organizations and individuals collaborate with governmental efforts. This has been the most significant factor in the success of all previous cases of catastrophes the state faced. For instance, when there was a severe shortage of facemasks and sanitizers some groups manufactured them overnight for the medical colleges. Several retired nursing professionals and those with nursing credentials voiced their willingness to fight the pandemic.
- Awareness campaigns: State-run and voluntary awareness programs on COVID-19 are everywhere in the state. ‘Break the Chain’ is the latest one among such campaigns that makes Kerala model Covid-19 management unique.
However, Kerala has to take much pain to vie with the impending challenges. Among the 110 cases in whole India, Kerala alone holds 21 patients. Also, when compared to other states, Kerala has a higher exposure to the Middle East and European nations where the disease is highly prevalent now. You can get the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about COVID-19 here.