India Coronavirus Dispatch: Mental health care important amidst crisis

Topics Mental health | Kerala | Coronavirus

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Ernakulam Covid centre: Kerala's Ernakulam district has the most number of active cases in the state, but has seen only 80 deaths so far. Its success in curbing the Covid death toll is largely attributed to its Covid centre. Officials in this centre have real-time information about every single Covid patient in the region — whether they need to be shifted to a higher centre, the ambulance/rental car that is closest and can be assigned for the purpose, and if the destination has a room to accommodate the patient. The District administration has put in place a wide Covid care network featuring call centres, telemedicine facilities, triage centres and so on. This network is largely responsible for keeping the case fatality ratio at 0.31 per cent as against the national average of 1.55 per cent. Ernakulam started preparing for the pandemic early on since the first few cases in the country were reported in its neighbouring districts. Read more here.

Pandemic’s mental health toll: A significant aspect of the global health emergency is the pandemic’s impact on mental health. The ongoing National Mental Health Week assumes significance against this backdrop. According to mental health experts, measures like social distancing and restrictions on public movement, isolation and uncertainty have led to increased anxiety, fear and emotional stress in people. Further, only 15 per cent to 20 per cent of people with mental illnesses have been able to get treatment and this gap can be attributed to poverty, poor awareness and social stigma. This situation has become more alarming since the pandemic hit. It’s important that people are not denied mental health care during the crisis, say experts. Job losses and the subsequent financial crunches have made the situation worse. Read more here.

IMA’s missives: The IMA has issued a terse statement asking the government a series of questions after the Health Ministry released Covid protocols focusing on ayurveda. This statement comes at a time when the Ministry has been promoting ‘immunity boosters’ like yoga and ayurveda as a means to protect oneself from the virus. The IMA statement comes at a time when experts around the world have stated that there is no scientifically proven way to boost one’s immunity. The immune system isn’t a switch that can be turned on and off, they say. The IMA has previously asked the Health Ministry if its officials are willing to undergo double-blind control study to ascertain the legitimacy of the claims. Read more here.

Kerala yet to see its peak: Kerala has been seeing a massive spike in Covid cases over the past few weeks. Now its health minister, K K Shailaja, has said that the numbers could peak at 20,000 daily cases. The state saw a huge influx of migrant returnees between June and September and subsequently saw Onam festivities leading to the current spike. The biggest challenge, she says, is to make people behave responsibly. The target the southern state has set for itself is to restrict the peak cases to 15,000 a day. Experts say the surge was expected despite the state’s famed health infra and early preparedness. The fact that the state’s health care is yet to be overwhelmed is the good news, according to experts. Further, the state has also been increasing its daily testing numbers. Read more here.

In Numbers

Thane recovers: Thane has seen the highest recovery rate in Maharashtra. The district has discharged 34,301 of its total 38,944, taking its recovery rate to 88.07 per cent. Maharashtra’s average discharge rate is 81.1 per cent. Officials have attributed the high recovery rate to ‘strict’ monitoring of patients under home or institutional isolation. Thane has also seen a decline in the number of daily cases after reporting a spike in July. It has also seen a dip in monthly deaths — from 206 deaths between August 9 and September 8 to 181 between September 9 and October 8. Despite the best recovery rate, Thane has seen a slightly higher proportion of deaths with its death rate clocking in at 2.66 per cent. This is higher than the state’s average death rate of 2.64 per cent. An on-ground medical team, according to local officials, observes all positive cases for up to 40 days. Read more here.

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