Kerala Health Minister Ok Ok Shailaja speaks to The Indian Express on why the state authorities shouldn’t be nervous in regards to the excessive variety of lively instances being reported from the state.
Kerala has the best variety of lively instances, it’s reporting the utmost variety of instances each day, almost one fourth of the nationwide tally. Why are the numbers not coming down?
Kerala has been making a scientific effort to regulate the pandemic. In a pandemic, there shall be a peak, regardless of how we attempt to management it. Otherwise, there ought to be an entire lockdown and when there is no such thing as a complete lockdown, the Covid pandemic may have one peak season. And our technique has been delaying the height, to keep away from a sudden peak which might result in disaster in hospitalisation and an increase within the variety of deaths. With our tracing-quarantaine-break the chain programme, we delayed the height which helped us to enhance our well being system – extra beds, extra ICUs, oxygen circulate and so on. We received that point. In some states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, the height got here fairly quick and the variety of deaths went up. The system couldn’t management the state of affairs and the demise toll went as much as 1000’s day by day. But in Kerala, our day by day demise toll by no means went past 25 — largely aged individuals or with comorbidity. Kerala’s achievement has been limiting deaths. Even now, a state with such inhabitants density, the demise charge is half per cent. The state reached the height, steadily, not swiftly. Considering the inhabitants density and different points, the quantity was predicted to cross 20,000, however we’ve not reached that stage.
Kerala’s surge began in September and the pageant season of Onam and a few political actions have been blamed. But different states additionally had festivals like Diwali and Chhath and so on. But no different state confronted this sort of a state of affairs.
Actually, there was no such rise within the pageant season additionally. See, in a pandemic, it will get unfold to most variety of individuals after which comes down. In different states, the instances went up and began coming down, however resulted in additional variety of deaths. Our predominant function for the technique was to stop the unfold to most variety of individuals directly and restrict the variety of deaths. We by no means confronted a disaster with hospital beds or scarcity of well being staff. Not at a single level, greater than 25 per cent of our ventilators have been occupied by Covid sufferers. Other sufferers additionally continued to be handled in hospitals.
Are you glad with the outcomes of your efforts?
We have taken most care and efforts. I don’t really feel responsible in any respect. But we didn’t need any deaths to occur. However, in a standard yr, we’ve many deaths on account of infectious illnesses. In truth, the variety of deaths in Kerala in 2020 is lower than that of the earlier yr. That’s what the statistics until November confirmed. We are ready for the December tally. Once it’s performed, we are going to publicise the information.
Are individuals following tips for social distancing and sporting masks?
No matter how intense our consciousness marketing campaign is, a small part of individuals will all the time flout the protocols. We can not count on 100 per cent compliance in any society. With widespread and intense marketing campaign, 80 per cent of the inhabitants began sporting masks and utilizing hand sanitisers. Otherwise, the state would have been worse than Maharashtra. We have good well being amenities, however we’ve three massive challenges – inhabitants density, the excessive variety of outdated age inhabitants, and life-style illnesses.
The state authorities has requested the Centre to offer Kerala precedence in offering the vaccine. What is its response?
The Centre factors out Kerala nonetheless has the best variety of instances. But there may be one other difficulty right here — the reporting system. It will get uncovered quickly. While we have been instructed about different states which don’t challenge the precise variety of instances, Kerala’s reporting system is basically efficient. We don’t go away a single case unnoticed. The Centre is conscious of it additionally. Even in Thursday’s assembly, the Centre didn’t blame the state. In the assembly, I identified that even in excessive peak, our quantity is lower than that of many different states.
In the assembly on vaccine, I instructed them that Kerala ought to get it on an emergency foundation. I additionally demanded that conserving the inhabitants and its vulnerability in thoughts, the state ought to get extra vaccines. I’ve knowledgeable them the state is prepared for vaccine distribution and ready. There was no denial from their aspect, nor was there an assurance. I believe we are going to get precedence.
What is the largest problem for you now?
Now that every part has opened — when the Centre lifts the lockdown, the state can not proceed strict lockdown — controlling the instances is much more harder. Opening up can also be essential to maintain the financial system going and folks should work for livelihood. Now our largest problem is to guard the outdated age inhabitants from getting affected. We are specializing in reverse quarantine and there are millions of well being staff working exhausting on getting it carried out. So far, we’ve managed it, I can not discuss tomorrow.
Has the outbreak of different illnesses like chook flu or mutated strains sophisticated the state’s efforts?
Kerala’s terrain is fertile for infectious illnesses. It is our efficient well being system and the state authorities’s effort that forestall grave calamities within the state. The variety of water our bodies in Kerala appeal to a whole lot of migratory birds and the state turns into susceptible to illnesses like avian flu.
There can also be a difficulty — a single demise in Kerala is reported nationally and internationally. Some different states had so many deaths, nevertheless it by no means received such consideration from the media. As the state has been successfully dealing with the difficulty, any casualties get reported additionally. Nothing is getting observed in Kerala, nonetheless we’ve managed this a lot.