How Kasargod's 'weak health system' resisted COVID-19

How Kasargod's 'weak health system' effectively resisted COVID-19 spike

Even as Kasargod district in Kerala bordering Karnataka often laments of a weak health care system, it has shown its mettle in the fight against COVID-19.

Out of the 176 persons tested COVID-19 positive in the district till Tuesday, 162 already recovered and fatality is nil.  It can be noted that the district's lone general hospital had treated 89 patients, which is the highest number of COVID patients treated by any hospital in Kerala. All the 89 got recovered, the latest being on Tuesday (April 28).

However, health officials of the district still keep their fingers crossed as they feel that it would require one or two more weeks to draw a conclusion that the district was free from a community spread.

District Medical Officer A V Ramdas told DH that even as the district handled patients from the age of two to around 70, the majority of the patients were of young age. Hence luckily no one went to a critical condition. 

While the first COVID-19 case in the district was reported on February 3 on a student from Wuhan, the district remained relatively safe for more than one month as only a few cases were reported during the second-phase of coronavirus spread from March 9. But the district witnessed a spike in the numbers from March 20 and the total reached the hundred mark in just one week. The district was on tenterhooks of a community spread. The majority of the infected persons had come from Dubai.

The district had no specialist doctors and the number of physicians at the general hospital was just three and the hospital could accommodate only around 120 COVID-19 patients. With Karnataka closing the borders for patients from Kasargod, the district hospital could not be entirely converted to a COVID-19 care centre as patients with other diseases also needed to be catered to. Even with these constraints as many as 135 patients got treated at the general hospital and district hospital alone.

COVID-19 nodal officer of the district Dr Manoj A T said that the district administration and the higher-ups of the health department immediately swung into action and took over some private hospitals and some defunct hospital blocks in the district and made it ready for keeping up to 1,000 patients and doctors from other hospitals.

As the situations in the district became alarming, the government initiated steps on a war-footing to make the administrative block of the upcoming medical college hospital, which has been progressing on a snail's pace, into a 100 bedded COVID-19 hospital and deployed doctors from other government medical colleges by the first week of April. All fresh COVID-19 cases that came up afterwards were treated there. A COVID-19 care facility was also set up at the Central University campus in the district.