New Delhi: Amid the spurt in COVID-19 positive cases, the Kerala government has decided to form a Covid Brigade to work along with the first line treatment centres (FLTCs) to lead preventive measures across the state.
The Covid Brigade will be formed by mobilising additional manpower other than the health department staff, and will consist of doctors, nurses and volunteers.
“More people are needed to strengthen COVID preventive operations because of the rising number of positive cases. We have worked out an integrated action plan. In addition to the staff in the health department, more contract health workers, including those from the National Health Mission, will be appointed. They will get a higher salary, as determined from time to time and there will be a proportional increase. They will also be covered by health insurance and will be given incentives, too. The Covid Brigade should be seen as an army that includes doctors, nurses, volunteers etc., chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday during his daily press conference.
These contract workers will be covered under insurance and will be given free treatment if they contract the infection during the service period.
The remuneration of existing workers will be increased and the daily wage of Grade 4 staff will be increased to Rs 1,000 from Rs 450 at present. The panchayats will provide accommodation for the sanitation workers.
Vijayan said the coming weeks were crucial and called for utmost vigilance. “We decide our own future and should make sure that we go out only in necessary situations”, he said.
The chief minister, without naming anyone, also flayed “unscientific statements” being made in media discussions that he said could affect preventive measures and were “creating misunderstanding” among the people.
“The unscientific and erroneous observations of such people who have no expertise in this field are affecting defensive activities. The tendencies to exaggerate or minimise the problems are dangerous,” the chief minister said.
Vijayan appealed to the people not to get misled by certain media commentators, as they had no expertise in the matter. He also appealed to the media, which gives room for such arguments, to be careful so that people were not affected. “The impact of such unscientific interventions will be huge and it will slow down defensive activities. Everyone should remember that we are not in social situation to afford these things" he added
More than 90% patients saved using plasma therapy
On Friday, Kerala health minister KK Shailaja said more than 90% COVID patients who were treated using Covid Convalescent Plasma (CCP) therapy have been saved. CPP is a method of treatment using blood plasma donated by a COVID recovered person.
This treatment has been found to be effective even in critically ill patients, she said, adding that through plasma therapy, there was a significant reduction in symptoms within days.
The first ever plasma treatment and plasma bank in the state was started at Manjeri Medical College. As the experimental plasma therapy has been successful, the minister said it had been decided to set up plasma banks in major medical colleges across the state.
Plasma treatment is given according guidelines laid down by the Indian Council of Medical Research or ICMR and state protocol with the permission of the medical boards. The survivors of coronavirus infection may have developed the antibodies needed to fight the virus. These antibodies remain in the body even after the disease is cured.
Plasma is collected from COVID- recovered persons who had symptoms such as fever and sore throat. Plasma can be donated from 14 days to four months after a patient tests COVID negative for two consecutive times. Pregnant women are excluded from donating plasma. Plasma is extracted from the blood by apheresis technology using the Fresenius Comtec machine. The collected plasma can be stored for up to one year.
While on Thursday, 1,078 people tested positive for COVID-19, a new single-day high in Kerala, the total number of infection count soared past 16,000 and the death toll mounted to 50 with five more new fatalities. This is the second consecutive day that fresh positive cases have crossed the 1,000 mark, taking the tally to 16,110.
On Wednesday, the state had logged 1,038 cases, the first time it crossed four digits. As many as 798 people contracted the virus through contact, 219 returned from overseas and other states while the source of infection of 65 patients was not yet known, Vijayan said. Kerala is the first state to have confirmed community transmission.
The overall active cases touched 9,458 while at least 432 were discharged from hospitals after recovery. A total of 1.58 lakh people are under observation.