COVID-19: Kerala may take over private buildings to isolate suspected cases

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In this Sunday, March 15, 2020, photo, an Indian doctor in a protective suit sits outside an isolation ward for COVIND-19 patients at a Hospital in Hyderabad, India, . For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

Kerala plans to take over empty spaces in private buildings such as corporate hospitals, private colleges and residential apartments to isolate people suspected of COVID-19.

People under observation in Kerala, either in homes or hospitals, rose from under 3,000 to over 12,000 in the last two weeks. Out of them, 270 people are in hospitals, stretching the existing capacity of public hospitals.

Ernakulam district collector S Suhas late Monday ordered taking over of now empty hostel building in Sree Sankaracharya University, in one of its suburbs, Kalady, to house people under isolation. Private hospitals and non-governmental institutions have been ordered to spare their medical and paramedical staff for government agencies.

“The Commissioner of Police, Kochi, the Superintendent of Police, Ernakulam and the Sub-Divisional Magistrates of districts shall contact the hospitals and other agencies who can spare para-medical staff and utilise their services for the prevention and spread of Covid-19, in consultation with District Health Authority,” the order said.

Ernakulam has added more people into isolation than others in Kerala because of its proximity to the state’s busiest Kochi airport, Aluva, where hundreds of people who have returned from affected countries are screened every day.

In the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala has identified 40-50 beds to take over two private hospitals that have ICUs, in case the disease spreads further, reported The New Indian Express newspaper on Tuesday. The reports said, quoting unnamed government officials, this is the state’s ‘Plan C’. After Plan A, in which suspected persons were quarantined, the state is presently working as per Plan B where more positive cases are identified and moved into isolation facilities, said the report.

“The plan for creating isolation facilities in vacant buildings and unused facilities has been prepared for every district,” said an official quoted in the report. Temporary facilities might also be set up in stadiums, schools, halls and hotels, the person added.

Kerala has so far confirmed 27 COVID-19 patients. Out of them, three have fully recovered.

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