The power of “Test and Trace” [36 million people/ 519 cases/ 4 deaths]. The math is simple. Kerala has 1/10 the population of America. While there are a lot of factors in play, divide the U.S. numbers by 10 to get a hint of what could have been.
I excerpted, but the link is at the bottom.
What Kerala did right
But Kerala, a thin strip on the country’s southern coast, has appeared to buck that trend. Although it has a population of around 36 million — almost as big as Canada — it has reported just 519 cases and four deaths. As of Saturday, it had only 16 active cases, according to the state’s finance minister, Thomas Isaac.
At the center of Kerala’s response was a woman who has been nicknamed “the coronavirus slayer.”In the second week of January — before the state, and by extension India, had reported its first coronavirus case — Kerala’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, KK Shailaja, noticed reports of a virus spreading in Wuhan, China. With many students from Kerala studying in Wuhan, KK Shailaja suspected it was just a matter of time before the virus arrived in the state. In late January, the ministry set up 18 expert groups for different facets of the outbreak control, covering everything from contact tracing and screening, to logistics and mental health. “We planned everything,” she says. From January 24, the government screened all passengers returning from China and sent all symptomatic patients to designated isolation facilities. On January 30, Kerala confirmed its first coronavirus patient — a student who had been studying in Wuhan. Authorities identified the first patient by screening all 172 passengers on a plane from Wuhan and isolating three students who had minor symptoms in the hospital. They were also able to trace more than 70 people who had been in close contact with the students, Shailaja said.How does India, a country of 1.3 billion people, have around 1,000 coronavirus deaths?And even when there were no new cases, the state continued being vigilant. “Some asked us why we were being so overactive because there were no cases now in Kerala,” she says. “We were told we overreacting but we didn’t withdraw our teams because we were reading about this virus going to other countries.”As Oommen Kurian, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation put it: “(Kerala) reacted as if it’s a very deadly disease from the beginning when people were actually doubtful across the world about the deadliness of the virus.” Back in 2018, the state was hit by an outbreak of Nipah virus, which killed 18 people within a few weeks. There is no treatment or vaccine for Nipah, which has a fatality rate of between 40 to 75% — much higher than Covid-19. Kerala managed to contain the disease in a short space of time — and the most important thing was contact tracing, Shailaja said.——————————