Covid-19: Though stretched to limits, Kerala will not stray from focus

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 12, 2020

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The global pandemic may have stretched its storied public health system to the limits, but no other state is tracking the deadly with as much alacrity

Desperate times call for desperate solutions as Kerala, which reported the first three Covid-19 cases in India but discharged all from hospital since, is finding it out for itself.

The global pandemic may have stretched its storied public health system to the limits, but no other state is tracking the deadly with as much alacrity. It heaved a collective sigh of relief yesterday (Wednesday) after no new positive cases were reported in the trail of a wave of clustered infections in Pathanamthitta district, reportedly spawned by a family returning from Italy.

Tracing family's movement

But the deteriorating health of two elderly members who contracted the virus from those who had just arrived from worst-affected Italy, is worrying the state health department. It is the latest happenings in Pathanamthitta that have prompted the department to use technology to track down the places visited by the carrier family right from February 29 when it landed in Kochi.

The department had come out on Tuesday with a patient flow chart after tracking the road taken by the family Kochi to Pathanamthitta, the places of visit including families of kin, supermarkets, shops, hospitals, names of buses travelled, projecting the approximate day and time. The flow chart was updated on Wednesday, based on which 70 calls were received from people who thought they might have been exposed to them at these places.

Separately, the Pathanamthitta district administration has introduced GPS technology to track down all those who are quarantined at home in different parts of the district. Two teams comprising 30 members each will observe the 733 persons under home quarantine, collect information and suggest treatment directions. Both teams are stationed at the Collectorate conference hall and will ensure that none of the quarantined stray outdoors.


Chinese experiment with tech

Earlier in February, the Covid-19 epicentre of China had enforced what was billed as the world’s largest quarantine to contain the outbreak by adapting and co-opting industrial drones to help ensure that an estimated 50 million residents are kept at home and indoors across a dozen of its cities.

The software flying the drones made in Shenzhen was rewritten to adapt their applications for disease detection and crowd management. They used thermal sensors, high-definition zoom lenses, loudspeakers and chemical spray jets for disinfecting large areas. Loudspeakers called out to terrified and unsuspecting members of the public found breaking rules put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

Videos released by Chinese state media outlets had shown a drone’s-eye-view of confrontations between citizens and the unmanned aircraft. One such video showed an aircraft flying close to an elderly woman and addressing her, as she stares up at it. “Yes Auntie, this drone is speaking to you,” the drone says, according to a translation by China’s state-owned Global Times. “You shouldn’t walk about without wearing a mask. You’d better go home, and don’t forget to wash your hands,” it instructs the woman, who promptly proceeds indoors, observed by the drone.

Published on March 12, 2020

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