Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Health Minister Veena George on Friday admitted the state is indeed facing the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the third wave likely began on January 1. However, she dismissed any attempts to paint this one as devastating as the previous two waves that crippled health infrastructure in the northern parts of the country.
She outlined two key factors for this. First, a vast majority of the people here have been administered two doses of the vaccine.
Second, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, though more contagious than its predecessors, is less lethal than those that accompanied the previous wave.
She also pointed that that though the fresh COVID-19 cases being reported daily for the past few weeks are staggeringly higher than earlier, there has been a considerable dip in the numbers in the last few days.
While the second and third week of January saw spikes of 148 and 215 per cent respectively, the last week of January reported only 71 per cent, George elaborated.
The number of people requiring ventilators at hospitals too has shown a significant drop, she added.
She also urged those suffering only mild symptoms after contracting COVID-19 to refrain from visiting the hospitals and thus further burdening the system.
To alleviate the burden on health professionals on the frontlines of COVID-19 duty, Health Minister Veena George also urged those who have completed their medical studies to offer their services.
They will be enrolled in a voluntary programme for two months. On completion, a certificate will be issued to them by the Health Department acknowledging their work, George said.
The details of health professionals will be pooled in each district, she added.
Avail tele-consultation service
A tele-consultation service will also be introduced with the help of retired health professionals. Those who wish to seek medical help can also consult these professionals, George said.
In January alone, more than 40,000 consultations were made through this facility, she added.
The health minister also pressed healthcare workers on the field and anganwadi workers to keep regular tabs on elderly and women in their neighborhoods. She urged them to offer assistance to those who are at a disadvantage after contracting COVID-19.
More control rooms will be opened in each district to address concerns and offer assistance, George said.