Kerala predicts a surge, prepares to treat 50,000 COVID patients at a time
Health Minister KK Shailaja said experts have forecast a surge in the caseload over the next month but also hastened to assure that the government had taken measures to manage the situation.
Kerala has made arrangements to treat around 50,000 COVID-19 patients at once, doubling the first line treatment centres to 56 as it battles the third wave of the infections. The surge in cases has pushed the number of active infections to over 7,000 in the last over two months.
After successfully containing the outbreak since it reported the country's first COVID-19 case in January, Kerala has been witnessing a sharp increase in fresh infections since May. Even as the state effectively tackled the first and second wave of infections, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had cautioned a third wave cannot be ruled out when the lockdown norms are eased and people allowed to return to the state. The recent surge has been attributed to thousands of people returning from overseas and other parts of the country.
Health Minister KK Shailaja said experts have forecast a surge in the number of cases over next month but also hastened to assure that the government could manage any such a situation with the measures being taken by it.
Though the caseload is still the lowest in south India, Kerala has ramped up the COVID care infrastructure. It has added more first line treatment centres (FLTCs) and will be recruiting staff on short-term basis so that it can treat up to 50,000 patients at a time.
"We already have two COVID hospitals in each district. Then as the number increased, we opened one FLTC for each COVID hospital. Thus, we already have 28 FLTCs. Now we have given direction to increase the number to 56. That is one COVID hospital will have two FLTCs," Shailaja told P T I.
She also said the government had already given directions to open in each of the 941 panchayats at least one FLTC where a special medical team would take care of asymptomatic and less complicated patients. She said the idea was to decongest medical college hospitals where more vulnerable patients would be treated.
Some FLTCs have up to 500 beds and at least 2,000 people can be accommodated in each of the 14 districts in the state.
"It can be schools, hostels or any other large building. The government has already released funds for purchase of necessary furniture and equipment at these centres. All districts have been given Rs 10 crore each. The panchayats have been given Rs 50,000 as an advance fund to set up the FLTCs," she said.
Kerala reported 821 fresh cases on Sunday, the highest single-day count, so far. While the tally rose to 12,480, the active cases stand at 7,063. According to officials, at least 60 per cent of the patients are asymptomatic in the state, adding to the health department’s difficulties.
"We cannot predict that a particular number of cases will be reported within a particular time period. But experts are predicting a surge in the number of cases in August. But we hope the surge can be controlled with our efforts,” she said.
(With PTI inputs)