Panchayats in Ernakulam already in lockdown mood

The government decision to impose a week-long State-wide lockdown from Saturday has come as a mere formality for the majority of panchayats in the district as 74 out of the 82 panchayats are already containment zones with strict restrictions in place.

Some of them like the coastal panchayat of Mulavukad had even decided to go for a full-fledged local lockdown from Thursday evening, for which they had already received approval from the district administration. As COVID-19 cases continue to soar, local bodies are now focusing their energies on increasing the number of tests and readying domicile care centres (DCCs) to ease the burden on healthcare facilities.

“We are nearing the completion of a DCC at Bolgatty Palace with 50-odd oxygen-supported beds. We have also recruited a few nursing staff for the centre. The number of patients in the panchayat as of Wednesday stands at 257 and the spread seems to have been largely triggered by the quarantine violations of the infected or their family members. Lockdown is likely to contain this,” said V.S. Akbar, Mulavukad panchayat president.

The panchayat remains resigned to the fact that vaccination was unlikely to be resumed in its limits till the lifting of the lockdown even. Arrangements for testing have been made at the two primary health centres at Mulavukad and Vallarpadam.

Rayamangalam panchayat on the eastern suburbs of the district remains concerned about the impact of the impending lockdown on the self-employed even as concerns remain about vaccination and healthcare. “We had deployed squads in every ward to help everyone registered for vaccination. But a mass vaccination camp across seven centres had to be abruptly called off owing to vaccine shortage after only 1,500 received the jab,” he said.

Patients with deteriorating condition are being moved to two private hospitals in Perumbavoor and the taluk hospital as decided by the control room based on the severity of the condition of patients, especially drop in oxygen levels. However, a person died earlier this week as he could not be moved to a hospital on time.

In Chendamangalam panchayat famed for its handloom products, weavers who were just about recovering from the 2018 deluge and last year’s lockdown have been dealt another blow after the panchayat was closed down as COVID-19 cases suddenly rose.

“Finished products worth around ₹1.30 crore now remain piled up at Chendamangalam Kaithari Sahakarana Sangham Limited No:H-47 even as our work shed also remains shut. We could neither pay 137 of our weavers their wages nor procure raw materials as we have run out of funds,” said Sojan P.A, who retired as secretary of the Sangham but continues to be associated with it as an advisor.

In the predominantly tribal Kuttampuzha panchayat in Kothamangalam, authorities are busy setting up a domicile care centre for mildly infected patients.

“The panchayat, however, has to take the seriously-ill needing hospitalisation to Kothamangalam town,” said K.K. Prakash, panchayat secretary in-charge.

Meanwhile, vaccine shortage continues to plague the majority of rural local bodies. However, M.G. Sivadas, district nodal officer for immunisation, said vaccination for those aged above 45 years was continuing in government healthcare facilities. “Those aged above 60 years who have not received the first jab are also being prioritised and they can just walk in without prior registration,” he said.

However, five mobile units originally deployed for vaccination at old-age homes and rural areas had to call off operations after a fortnight due to vaccine shortage. The units had vaccinated about 5,000 persons.

“Two more mobile units were added since then and they are now coordinating control rooms in seven taluks, helping with setting up domicile care centres,” said Celia Lewis, medical officer, mobile medical team.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 3:02:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/panchayats-in-ernakulam-already-in-lockdown-mood/article34502044.ece

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