Coronavirus: Surveillance is the key, Kerala shows the way

Sense of alertness created among the community has helped the State a lot

Kerala can take pride in its robust disease surveillance system and the sense of alertness it has managed to create among the community on the seriousness of the public health emergency that is unfolding at the global level which has helped the State pick up its second nCoV (novel Coronavirus) case in Alapuzha district.

State Health Department officials confirmed that they were anticipating more positive nCoV cases as it had become evident that Kerala has one of the highest number of students studying at Wuhan in Hubei province in China, the epicentre of the current global epidemic, and that many of them were on their way home or were already home.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that in China, 60.5% of all cases since the start of the outbreak have been reported from Hubei province.

Even in other countries, the first reported nCoV cases were all found in people who returned from China.

Special risk

The presence of a huge student community from Kerala in China puts the State at a special risk and the Health Department has gone on an overdrive, aggressively screening and putting on surveillance, anyone with a recent travel history to China and any other nations where nCoV has been reported.

It is thus no surprise that Kerala has perhaps one of the highest number of persons – nearly 2,000 — who have been put under special surveillance and quarantine.

“It might perhaps be a bit of overkill and it is indeed a huge strain on the health system resources to keep such huge numbers under surveillance but we think that our additional vigilance will pay off. Those under home quarantine are being contacted twice daily by assigned health workers to check if they are following the home quarantine rules and if any have developed any symptoms,” a senior Health official told The Hindu

The helpline (DISHA 1056) is inundated with calls from Keralites from across the globe, especially Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan seeking advice, he added

The sense of urgency and alert created in the community has gone up after the first case tested positive.

Self reporting increased and all of a sudden, the number of people isolated in hospitals with possible symptoms shot up from single digits to over 70, he said.

Now that more positive nCoV cases would begin to be reported, the focus of the Health Department would be to ensure that all isolation and infection control protocols were followed strictly so that there was no further human-to-human spread of the disease, the State Nodal Officer for Public Health Emergencies, Amar Fettle, said.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 1:29:27 AM |

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