As the nation started understanding the seriousness of the Covid-19 Pandemic a dangerous competition among states started in India. This competition was about branding their respective ‘Model’ as the best model. First we saw Rajasthan, then we saw Delhi, then we saw Dharavi and the much touted and talked about ‘Kerala’ model. Even the World Health Organisation, gave a shout out to this model. It was not the first time that WHO was appreciating a communist state.
Things have rapidly changed as Kerala has started reporting tremendous surge in cases at a increasing growth rate. This started from Mid-September and the state is yet to completely recover. So the question has to be asked, What went wrong? Some report that Kerala is overly relying on the anti-gen test and has not increased testing with rising numbers. Other reports indicate arrival of migrant workers from July has led to surge in infections. The Union Health Minister cited a third reason i.e. Onam Celebrations caused the massive surge in the state. The government however has termed the opposition members as ‘merchants of death‘ for holding political campaigns in the state. After analyzing all of it, even the medical experts are unable to track on the exact reason.
Let us analyze the reasons given above one by one. Number of testing is a combination of different tests done across state. Contrary to other states where slightly lower testing is giving lower positivity rate, picture of Kerala seems to be completely opposite. Unlock process was done with consultation of all the states, thus Kerala did have the anticipated incoming of migrant workers which should have logically translate into more testing which it did not. Even Bihar and Uttar Pradesh rely on anti-gen tests but their ratio is balanced with RT-PCR tests which keeps the picture clear for epidemiologists. The last reason given by the Union Home Minister is the most unreliable. Many states, including Maharashtra observed Ganesh Chaturthi festival which is longer in terms of days and also celebrated in a population wise large state. There were wide-spread Mohoram Celebrations across the country. These festivities might have increased the spread in few pockets. But it affecting the whole state seems a little stretch.
The only positive side in this surge is a very low mortality rate which gives the state a ray of hope that all is not lost. In my opinion, early celebrations of success and resulting lethargy of administration which was brought to the notice by media and civil societies at different instances. It further calls into enquiry what new initiatives were taken by the administration to sustain the already low numbers in the state. If not, then would that amount to administerial overconfidence? Number of penalties charged due to non-observance of Covid related rules should be observed to know whether there was widespread flouting from the public too.
This Kerala model if not a lesson of public health administration, should be a lesson for other states about celebrating the success of ‘conquer’ too early in a pandemic. Even after the number come down, it won’t take much time for the virus to jump to peaks if lethargy creeps in public as well as administration. Irrespective of reasons, the much touted Kerala model clearly seems to crumble down under administrative ignorance and social overconfidence.
Bharat Bhagya Vidhata
- Feature image courtesy – The Week