The mark of zero-THE HINDU-06-05-2020
If in April there were early signs of Kerala gaining an upper hand over the virus, its control became clear from the fourth week of April. The containment success can be traced back to how Kerala did not wait for directions from the Centre but instead led from the front.
When the number of cases increased to 12 on March 10, a day before WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic, Kerala shut down all educational institutions and entertainment centres, banned large gatherings and appealed to people to avoid visiting religious places. If it realised the merits of containing virus transmission by quickly tracing all the contacts during the 2018 Nipah outbreak, it repeated that to perfection this time.
Little wonder that on May 2, the ICMR lauded the State for the “unparalleled” containment and testing strategies and referred to it as the “Kerala model”.
Kerala has very good health-care infrastructure in place, down to the primary health-care centres. But what sets it apart from the other States is the manner in which it followed textbook epidemiology protocols to the tee, and beyond, and well before the ICMR advocated them, as well as the entire health-care infrastructure working in tandem despite being decentralised. The very different health-seeking behaviour and high literacy too have played a pivotal role in the war against the virus.
While active involvement of all the stakeholders who complement each other especially during the crisis has worked in Kerala’s favour, these are not measures put in place to fight coronavirus but what has been a legacy of the State.