With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing in Kerala – in what is turning out to be the third wave of the virus – the state government has already implemented various measures to tackle its further spread. Among such steps are community-based action plans like the coastal health plan.
The latest in such initiatives is the intensifying of defence activities in tribal areas across the state. Strict monitoring has been initiated in every tribal hamlet. Those who move out from tribal villages are not allowed to come in direct contact with people in the area. Outsiders are also not allowed to come in direct contact with the people in tribal areas. The monitoring is being done under the leadership of mobile units and volunteers. The health department has also directed that strict precautions should be taken against other infectious diseases.
COVID-19 checkpoints will also be set up at the entrances to tribal areas. The Medical Officer of the Primary Health Center in the area will lead the effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The Tribal Health Action Plan of the Health Department said that the district administration and the Scheduled Tribes Development Department should ensure that these are efficiently carried out in all tribal areas..
Visitors and young people working outside the tribal areas have been advised to not interact with those in the high-risk category. Once they return to their villages, special accommodation facilities (quarantine facilities) should be provided for them if required. As per the action plan, treatment facilities will be availed at local levels for those who test positive as well.
At least one volunteer will be assigned to each Ooru (hamlet) to monitor fever and respiratory problems. They would keep an eye on unnatural deaths as well. These steps would help prevent the possibility of COVID-19 and if the novel coronavirus is detected in these areas, the preventive steps could help to dampen its spread. In any case, if the virus spreads in the hamlet, cluster formation should be detected as early as possible through the steps mentioned. The health department also recommends door-to-door awareness campaigns to prevent the spread of other infectious diseases.
The state government has taken strict precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among forest dwellers. Special COVID-19 inspection camps were already organised in tribal areas.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Kerala was 34,331 on Sunday. A total of 108 people have lost their lives to COVID-19 in state.
Earlier, when community transmission of the virus was detected in two coastal villages in Thiruvananthapuram, the state had come up with a special health plan for coastal villages across the state. In the second week of July, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had confirmed community spread in two coastal villages in Thiruvananthapuram – Poonthura and Pulvilla. According to officials, clusters are formed when there is an “unexpected surge in COVID-19 cases” in a particular area; it occurred just before community transmission.
On Friday, July 17, the CM had outlined detailed surveillance and disease containment measures for the coastal regions. As per these measures, coastal regions in Thiruvananthapuram are under a triple lockdown since Sunday, for 10 days.
For the effective implementation of the lockdown, the region had been divided into three zones, with the District Police Chief, Thiruvananthapuram city, acting as a special officer. The first zone comprises the northern stretch – from Anchuthengu to Perumathura. Perumathura-Vizhinjam and Vizhinjam-Oorambu are the second and third zones.
Two senior IAS officers were deployed as Incident Commanders for each zone. “The containment measures will be jointly enforced by the Health and Police Departments, the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation and panchayats,” Vijayan said.
These strategies have helped the state to prevent an exponential growth of COVID-19 cases in the coastal regions of the state. Now, the tribal areas have also been given special focus in the fight against COVID-19.