Kerala scrambles first Covid Brigade

The first batch of Kerala’s unique Covid Brigade boarded a bus from here on Tuesday and scrambled in the Kasaragod district, marked implementation of a strategy to quell the threat of daily new virus infections shooting from the current 2,000 to a potential 10,000-20,000.

A batch of 26 boarded the bus to Kasargod on a mission to manage two Covid First-Line Treatment Centers (CFLTCs) at Manjeshwaram, which is said to be facing a shortage of manpower. Before being sent out, the team was provided with four-day training at the Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram.

CFLTCs have been set up in various places of the State in anticipation of the surge in patient numbers. The Covid Brigade, involving volunteer doctors, nurses, paramedical, technical and cleaning staff, is deployed at these centres as also other designated Covid hospitals. The State government has sought three types of volunteers aged between 18 and 50.

Volunteer categories

The volunteers fall into medical category (MBBS, dental, Ayurveda and homeopathy), nurses, lab technicians, and pharmacists; non-medical category (MBAs, MSWs, and MHAs) whose services will be sought for technical tasks such as centre management and data entry; and multi-purpose category (educational qualifications not considered, but willing to take up any task).

These volunteers are given training and provided accommodation, if needed. They will receive also remuneration in line with the guidelines of the National Heath Mission Covid insurance cover. The training for the team will be conducted by SS Santosh Kumar, Covid Brigade special Officer and Deputy Superintendent of Government Medical Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram.

The training covered a wide range of the protocol including infection control, basic life support, airway management, sample testing, medical protocol, Covid protocol, and others. Training for a second batch of the brigade has also been taken up over a 10-day period being provided to those who were selected to work in critical care.

Better remuneration offered

According to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, more people are needed to strengthen Covid-defensive operations in view of the rising numbers of cases. “We have worked out an integrated action plan. In addition to the staff in the health department, more contract health workers, including those from the National Health Mission, will be appointed,” he said.

They will get a higher salary, as determined from time to time, and there will be a proportional increase. They will also be covered by health insurance and will be given incentives too.

Special healthcare will be provided to all contract employees in the Covid Brigade, and they will be given free treatment if they become ill during their service. Certificates of appreciation will be given to students. For those in the Grade 4 category currently involved in the exercise, the current daily salary of ₹450 will be increased to ₹1,000.

Covid-19 death toll at 245

The State has set up 748 CFLTCs, with 40,847 total beds available — 4,517 observation beds; 36,330 treatment beds of 36,330; 17 ICU beds and two ventilators. As of Tuesday, Kerala had 9,608 asymptomatic patients; 3,425 persons with mild symptoms (category A); 385 with mild symptoms (category B); 10 with severe symptoms (category C) and 11 with critical symptoms.

The death toll has risen to 245 as on Tuesday; total confirmed cases are 61,879, current active cases at 21,232 and recoveries at 40,339. The number of confirmed cases per million is 1,762; active ratio at 34.3 per cent; recovery ratio at 65.2 per cent; and case fatality ratio at 0.4 per cent. Number of tests per million is at 42,275. The total number of tests are at 14,84,907, a vast improvement over the previous months.

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