As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state, government doctors on Monday said the Kerala health sector was facing serious shortage of human resources to fight the pandemic and urged the government to immediately recruit more health workers and call back retirees to overcome the situation. The Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) also asked the Kerala government to take immediate steps to vaccinate people, aged between 18 and 45 years, at the earliest after identifying the priority categories.
Besides those having serious health issues, those involved in various activities related to fighting the pandemic and media personnel, the first degree relatives of health workers should also be included in the priority category, it said. The immediate relatives (spouse and children) of health workers should be given priority as they are one of the most vulnerable groups to contract the disease, it said.
In a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the outfit pointed out that excessive workload and lack of adequate human resources are among the serious challenges faced by the state’s health sector while fighting COVID-19. Along with fighting the virus, the Health department has the heavy responsibility to carry forward the post-COVID treatment also.
To implement this effectively, more health workers including doctors should be recruited from primary health centres to COVID hospitals, the outfit suggested. Stating that health workers who are working tirelessly are suffering from various physical and mental stress issues, the KGMOA said there are also cases in which many of them are affected with the virus.
“If health workers are not recruited in proportion to the number of patients, a serious situation can ensue," it said. Tele-consultation system should be strengthened under the aegis of local self-government bodies and bed strength at the COVID First Line Treatment Centers (CFLTC) should be increased.
The KGMOA also suggested the Chief Minister to set up a 24×7 call centre at panchayat/ block level with the appointment of health workers including retirees to provide necessary guidance and treatment to the patients who are being treated and observed at home in a large number of cases. Meanwhile, police intensified lockdown-related curbs and searches in Kerala on Monday.
As the number of people applying for the e-pass issued by police for travel has increased many-fold, state DGP Loknath Behera requested people to ask it only for emergency purposes. Those belonging to the essential service category need to carry only a valid identity card while travelling and they do not need an e-pass, he said and warned stringent action against those misusing the pass facility.
According to figures, a total of 2,55,628people have applied for the e-pass till 11 AM on Monday after the complete shutdown came into force in the state onSaturday. Of this, 22,790 people were given permission for travel while 1,40,624 applications were rejected, it said.