The coronavirus slayer! How Kerala's rock star health minister helped save it from Covid-19
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As such, Shailaja Teacher, as the 63-year-old minister is affectionately known, has attracted some new nicknames in recent weeks – Coronavirus Slayer and Rockstar Health Minister among them. The names sit oddly with the merry, bespectacled former secondary school science teacher, but they reflect the widespread admiration she has drawn for demonstrating that effective disease containment is possible not only in a democracy, but in a poor one.
How has this been achieved? Three days after reading about the new virus in China, and before Kerala had its first case of Covid-19, Shailaja held the first meeting of her rapid response team. The next day, 24 January, the team set up a control room and instructed the medical officers in Kerala’s 14 districts to do the same at their level. By the time the first case arrived, on 27 January, via a plane from Wuhan, the state had already adopted the World Health Organization’s protocol of test, trace, isolate and support.
As the passengers filed off the Chinese flight, they had their temperatures checked. Three who were found to be running a fever were isolated in a nearby hospital. The remaining passengers were placed in home quarantine – sent there with information pamphlets about Covid-19 that had already been printed in the local language, Malayalam. The hospitalised patients tested positive for Covid-19, but the disease had been contained. “The first part was a victory,” says Shailaja. “But the virus continued to spread beyond China and soon it was everywhere.”
In late February, encountering one of Shailaja’s surveillance teams at the airport, a Malayali family returning from Venice was evasive about its travel history and went home without submitting to the now-standard controls. By the time medical personnel detected a case of Covid-19 and traced it back to them, their contacts were in the hundreds. Contact tracers tracked them all down, with the help of advertisements and social media, and they were placed in quarantine. Six developed Covid-19.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
May 16, 2020 at 4:09 PM #316105Cold Mountain TrailParticipant
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Shailaja says a test in Kerala produces a result within 48 hours. “In the Gulf, as in the US and UK – all technologically fit countries – they are having to wait seven days,” she says. “What is happening there?” She doesn’t want to judge, she says, but she has been mystified by the large death tolls in those countries: “I think testing is very important – also quarantining and hospital surveillance – and people in those countries are not getting that.” She knows, because Malayalis living in those countries have phoned her to say so.
May 16, 2020 at 4:23 PM #316106N2DocParticipant
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What’s happening there (as in US, UK, etc)? Corruption and incompetence. After all, people gotta get their cut of the pandemic profits, and if there was no crisis there would not have been multi-trillion dollar scams available so easily.
May 16, 2020 at 8:42 PM #316148NJCherParticipant
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Common sense, intelligence, courage….
And did you know that countries led by women are doing the best at controlling the virus?
Since the beginning of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there’s been a lot of media attention paid to the relationship between female leaders at the helm of various nations and the effectiveness of their handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
The actions of female leaders in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Germany, Taiwan and New Zealand are cited as supporting evidence that women are managing the crisis better than their male counterparts. Resilience, pragmatism, benevolence, trust in collective common sense, mutual aid and humility are mentioned as common features of the success of these women leaders.
It would be easy to conclude outright that women make better leaders than men. Our academic education and experience as certified corporate directors, however, tell us that would be an overly simplistic verdict, and it’s actually more complicated than that.
Let’s broaden our perspective. What if countries led by women are managing the pandemic more effectively not because they are women, but because the election of women is a reflection of societies where there is a greater presence of women in many positions of power, in all sectors?
see more at link to story, entitled:
May 16, 2020 at 10:35 PM #316174salemcourtParticipant
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Kerala regularly votes the communist party into power (maybe 50% of the time since the 1950s.)
May 16, 2020 at 10:38 PM #316176salemcourtParticipant
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K._K._Shailaja Member of the communist party of India (Marxist)
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