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Covid protocol to be part of Kerala’s disaster management plan

As threat of another flood looms amid the pandemic, KSDMA teams up with health experts to devise detailed plan to combat deadly duo

Published: 14th May 2020 06:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th May 2020 06:58 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state is inching towards another monsoon amid the pandemic threat, and the authorities are on the toes preparing for floods and landslides as the normal disaster response will not be enough to survive the Covid-19 outbreak and a natural disaster at the same time. According to weather forecast, last year’s monsoon would repeat in the state this year too, which indicates another deluge.

In 2019, the monsoon claimed around 125 lives and around 1,038 villages from 13 districts were affected by floods and landslides. Malappuram and Wayanad were the worst-hit by the monsoon. While in 2018, the state witnessed the worst flood which claimed 450 lives and affected 1,260 villages. According to health experts, planning and accurate prediction of weather would be critical this monsoon and more infrastructure has to be identified to avoid overcrowding.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is chairing a high-level meeting on Thursday to discuss the Covid-19 protocol to be followed during floods. The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) has tied up with the Community Medicine wing of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College to devise a comprehensive plan to combat the deadly duo — flood and Covid-19.

Unlike previous years, the authorities have given direction to the panchayat authorities to find four types of structures to set up relief camps in the wake of Covid-19. According to officials, there would be dedicated camps for the displaced elderly population, people with disease symptoms etc. “Normally only the worst-hit panchayats would have multiple camps and this year four separate structures preferably school premises would be used for rehabilitating the displaced families. A health register would be strictly maintained to track the disease history of every individual for effective medical intervention,” said a senior official. The respective community and primary health centres at these panchayats would be monitoring the camp.

The district collectors in the state have been asked to come up with the district-level disaster preparedness plan. “We have published an orange book on disaster management which contains the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to guide various departments to take appropriate action during an emergency. This year we have decided to include Covid-19 protocol in the orange book to effectively fight flood and Covid-19,” said a senior official.

The draft Covid-19 protocol is expected to be approved by the Chief Minister in the high-level meeting which would be attended by the heads of various departments. “District collectors would be given directions to come up with effective plans to combat rain-related relief activities and Covid-19,” said the official. According to health experts, Covid-19 suspects at the relief camps should be identified and segregated.

“There should be adequate number of toilets and facilities for hand washing and disinfection at the camps. There should be facilities for quick testing of suspected patients and positive cases should be shifted immediately to first-line treatment centres. Also, there should be transportation facilities to evacuate the patients without any close contact,” said an official of Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.

‘Identify, segregate suspected carriers’ 
According to health experts, suspected Covid-19 carriers at the relief camps should be identified and segregated. “There should be adequate number of toilets and facilities for hand washing and disinfection at the camps,” said an official.



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