Kerala had already an experience of containing contagious diseases. It tamed Nipah within a month, adopting an all-hands approach that included district-wide curfews, relentless contact-tracing and the quarantine of thousands of potential carriers. The same relentless cheap tool has been recalibrated to fight Covid-19.
Kerala was the first out of India’s 36 states and territories to report a covid-19 case. It accounted for a fifth of India’s cases when a national lockdown was announced, more than any other state. After six weeks, The Economist report underscores, “As India’s active caseload has risen by a multiple of 71, Kerala’s has fallen by two-thirds.” It has so far counted four deaths.
The state harbors a population of 35 million. Vietnam though is a much bigger place with 95 million people. Like Kerala it was exposed to the virus early. Till date it has not suffered a single confirmed fatality. While “the Philippines, a nearby country of roughly the same population and wealth, has suffered more than 10,000 infections and 650 deaths.”
Like Kerala, Vietnam has recently battled deadly epidemics, during the global outbreaks of SARS in 2003 and of swine flu in 2009. What makes them peculiar in their sweep over this pandemic? The report reiterates, “Vietnam and Kerala both benefit from a long legacy of investment in public health and particularly in primary care, with strong, centralised management, an institutional reach from city wards to remote villages and an abundance of skilled personnel.” Both places cherish a history of communism. In Vietnam communism is the state ideology and in Kerala it is upheld by the left-party since 1950s.
Vietnam aggressively used every tool in its arsenal ranging from wearing protective masks, contact-tracing, lockdowns and public-awareness campaigns to contain the virus. Kerala’s state government has been similarly energetic. From the chief minister to its top elected official disseminated information to village-level committees, working to set up public hand-washing stations. The state has mobilised some 16,000 teams to man call centres and to look after as many as 100,000 quarantined people, ensuring they do not lack food, medical care or simply someone to talk to along with giving food to migrant workers.
Link to the original article-https://www.economist.com/asia/2020/05/09/vietnam-and-the-indian-state-of-kerala-curbed-covid-19-on-the-cheap