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Covid fear looms over thickly-populated areas

ICMR report that densely-populated urban areas are more susceptible to contracting Covid-19 has raised concern

Published: 13th June 2020 07:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th June 2020 03:20 PM   |  A+A-

(File) People gathering violating social distancing norms in the capital

(File) People gathering violating social distancing norms in the capital. (Photo | Vincent Pulickal, EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) recent observation that densely-populated urban areas are more susceptible to contracting Covid-19 has cast a shadow over the crowded areas in the district, including the coastal belt and colonies. The fact that authorities are struggling to step up surveillance and monitoring in these regions aggravates the issue.  The health department officials are unable to make effective interventions in vulnerable areas due to shortage of staff and medical team. 

According to them, the recruitment of doctors for Covid-19 duty has been stalled due to the low salary offered by the government. As per statistics till June 11, around 13,620 people are in-home quarantine and 996 people are in institutional quarantine at 52  quarantine care centres in the state capital.

Manpower shortage
An official of District Medical Office (DMO) said manpower is the main challenge. “We have taken all possible measures to keep the vulnerable areas under our surveillance. All our staffs are working day and night to deal with both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 situations. This is very demanding and we need more people. We have given directions to the medical officers of the primary health centres to intensify monitoring in these densely-populated areas,  especially the coastal belt. Our move to recruit more house surgeons is yet to materialise as the pay doesn’t impress them,” said an official of the DMO. 

Kerala’s state nodal officer for Covid-19 Amar Fettle told Express that community spread is always expected during an outbreak. “We have to face any challenges and as far as I know, the state is well prepared. Social distancing may not be practical at places with overcrowding. We have to appeal to the public constantly and intensify mass media campaigns to reach out to them, especially at hotspots,” said Amar Fettle. He said the state has appointed two separate district surveillance officers in every state for dealing with Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 cases. 

“We have a very solid action plan and may have to deal with Covid-19 and other communicable disease outbreaks,  simultaneously. The decision to bring in private hospitals on board would help ease the burden on government Covid-19 hospitals,” said Amar Fettle. The DMO has identified SAT Royal Hosptial and Homeo Medical College etc as first-line Covid-19 care centres here. Deputy Collector Disaster Management Anu S Nair said more monitoring is a must at the coastal belt. “Coastal areas and other thickly-populated areas in the district would be given more priority. The health team will be mapping these places and sentinel surveillance would be stepped up,” said Anu S Nair.

staff shortage 
The health department officials are unable to make effective interventions in vulnerable areas due to shortage of staff and medical team. According to them, the recruitment of doctors for Covid-19 duty has been stalled due to the low salary offered by the government.



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