Communist youth in Kerala are in the forefront of the battle against COVID-19

Activists of leftist youth organizations, including the Democratic Youth Federation of India, have helped operationalize facilities for the treatment of patients, and set up hand washing facilities in many villages and towns

March 24, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Members of the Democratic Youth Federation of India help set up an isolation ward for COVID-19 patients in Kannur district in Kerala.

The south Indian State of Kerala has mounted a valiant fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the State. The State government, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M), has been taking decisive measures, both on the health and socioeconomic fronts, to combat the pandemic and ensure that the livelihoods of people are protected. Communist youth in Kerala, particularly members of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the CPI(M), have also initiated a massive campaign to help in the fight against the pandemic.

In the northern district of Kasargode, where about 38 people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of March 23, DYFI cadre took the initiative to completely sanitize and repair the wiring of a 500-room building to be used as an isolation facility and for providing medical care for COVID-19 patients in the district. The building belonged to the Central University of Kerala and was not in use for almost a year.

Around 120 DYFI cadre in Idukki district have already sanitized and helped operationalize a newly constructed block with 100 rooms in the district hospital at Thodupuzha to facilitate medical care for patients. The block was opened on March 23, Monday. Youth brigades of DYFI in the district of Kannur also sanitized and operationalized two relatively unused buildings for the treatment of infected patients. Earlier, on March 11, the defunct Archana Hospital in the Pandalam town of Pathanamthitta district was sanitized and re-operationalized by local DYFI cadre after positive cases were reported in the district.

DYFI has also launched Statewide helpline facilities for counseling and providing assistance to those who are in home isolation. District units have already distributed tens of thousands of masks and hand sanitizer bottles made by the cadre themselves with the help of experts. The organization has helped set up hand washing facilities in many villages and towns as part of the ‘Break The Chain’ campaign launched by the State government to prevent social transmission of the virus. The youth group is also involved in the free distribution of food for patients and their attendants in the State’s major public health facilities. The DYFI’s signature blood donation campaign has also been reinvigorated in light of the health emergency.

Various other youth groups, including the All India Youth Federation (AIYF), which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI), have also initiated public campaigns.

Kerala has won widespread praise for the way it has mobilized state machinery and engaged the public in its fight against COVID-19. The State government declared a full lockdown on March 23, except for essential services. As of March 24, the State has recorded 109 cases with four recoveries. Close to 400 people are under observation in hospitals and over 64,000 people are under observation in their homes. A total of 561 cases have been reported in India with 511 active cases. Prime minister Narendra Modi, on March 24, called for a country-wide shutdown for three weeks.

Read more about Kerala’s efforts to combat the pandemic here.