Kerala's Young Join Covid Brigade To Save Lives Ahead Of Forecast Surge

The Kerala government has formed Covid Brigade to keep fatalities in check during an anticipated coronavirus surge next month. Daily Covid cases may rise up to 10,000.

Kerala coronavirus: Over 10,000 medical practitioners have signed-up for the COVID Brigade.


A young Dr Ashley Franclin, mother of a two-year-old child, is among the first batch of experts being trained as part of the recently formed 'Covid Brigade' to help Kerala tackle an anticipated coronavirus surge from next month, when, according to officials, up to 10,000 fresh cases may be reported daily.

For her, the decision to serve during a pandemic around 560 km away from her home in Thiruvananthapuram has been far from easy.

"When I got to know that I was being sent to Kasaragod, I wanted to quit. But, my family, my parents, officials motivated me... After all, I joined the Covid Brigade in the hope that my child can roam around freely in her surroundings," she told NDTV.

Dr Franclin is part of a 26-member that will be sent to Kerala's northern-most district of Kasaragod to handle the Covid first-line treatment centres, or CFLTCs.

Also a part of this team is Al-Akheem, a lab technician in his early 20s.

"We are very proud to be part of this team. Our families stand by us. This is for our country," he said after a role-orientation programme at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, where the team did mock drills of crucial life support demonstrations.

Over 10,000 medical practitioners have signed-up for the Covid Brigade - a paid-for Covid-specific task force including doctors, nurses, lab technicians and even those from social work and business management background.

The state-paid salary varies from Rs 25,000 to Rs 60,000 depending on the field of expertise and skill set.

Among those training these young professionals to treat coronavirus patients is Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr SS Santhosh - the doctor who led a medical delegation from Kerala to Mumbai during its recent peak.

He explained that even though there are more Covid cases in Thiruvananthapuram right now, the first batch of 'COVID Brigade' will be sent to Kasaragod since it doesn't have the required medical staff or colleges. The young have to be at the forefront, Dr Santhosh said.

"In Maharashtra, Delhi and other places, we saw an increase in deaths after cases surged because of human resource shortage. The human capacity building we're doing now will ensure we can save as many lives as possible when Covid cases start surging in Kerala," Dr Santhosh told NDTV.

Dr Mohammad Asheel, a core group member of the state's COVID-19 team, is in agreement.

"We have quadrupled our bed capacity to around 80,000, now we need people. So, along with the Covid Brigade, we are also training 500 ICU casualty medical officers only for ICU operations," he said.