KOCHI: The Kerala model of Covid-19 management that won laurels globally faces its greatest challenge now. In the run up to the assembly elections, it appears that the state is slowly losing its battle in maintaining Covid-19 protocol to mitigate the risk of transmission.
Most candidates and supporters are violating SMS — sanitizing, masks and social distancing — to reach out to voters.
Public health experts are worried as this increasing inappropriate behaviour comes at a time when several states are experiencing a second wave of Covid.
“Our positive is that the elections are happening in our Covid declining phase. But the negative is that when we study the pattern across the globe, there is a gap of one-and-a-half months to four months between the first and second wave, which we do not expect to get. This is because there is more than normal social and unprotected interaction and we may go for an early second peak by mid-April,” said Dr B Mohammed Asheel, executive director of Kerala Social Security Mission, who was closely involved in the campaign.
“Cutting across the party lines, candidates, including doctors, are violating the Covid norms. The only solution is to vaccinate the majority at the earliest,” said internal medicine expert Dr Arun N M, who has been analyzing the Covid death trend in Kerala.
Incidentally, the heavy-handed response from the health department and law enforcement officials that was seen during the initial phase of the first wave of the infection is missing now. Though the government has directed collectors to video record election campaigns and share the footage with police and sectoral magistrates to check for violations of Covid-19 protocol, nothing has changed on the ground. Social distancing is a distant dream as candidates are surrounded by party supporters, many of them who don’t wear masks.
“This is the time that we need to take maximum precaution as the second wave has hit the country. But the government is sitting like a lame duck,” said public health expert and epidemiologist Dr Raman Kutty.
The problem is that using the excuse of leniency during elections, there will be increased demands for more religious and social activities that were so far restricted, he added.