Kerala’s Covid Brigade disbanded, 20,000 laid off | Thiruvananthapuram News

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The health department is terminating the services of nearly 20,000 staff of the Covid Brigade on September 30, according to an order issued by the state mission director of National Health Mission.
Deployed in the fight against Covid-19 since January 2020, the dismissal of this frontline force is based on the presumption that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.
The brigade, which played a key role in the state’s Covid fight, includes doctors, nursing staff, data entry operators and other staff employed in various Covid treatment centres, first-line treatment centres and domiciliary care centres across the districts.
“The government should have extended the service of the Covid Brigade for at least two more months since we have not ruled out a third wave. Only by mid-October we can be sure whether there will be a third wave or not. So it would have been better to extend the services of these doctors, nurses and paramedical staff till November end”, said Dr G S Vijayakrishnan, state president Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA). He said the health service would be severely burdened if an emergency situation prevails again and the services of these additional human resources are terminated now.
The decision of relieving such a large number of employees from duty at a short notice has created a controversy, with employees pointing out that they should have been given a notice period.
‘Govt extended service for six more months’
The order issued to all district collectors said these employees were recruited as part of mobilising resources to provide the best care to patients in view of escalation in the number of Covid cases in the state. “Considering the scenario of Covid condition and vaccination of the general public, the government had extended the service of Covid brigade for six more months beyond 31.03.2021. This period comes to an end on 30.09.2021,’’ it says.
The district collectors have been asked to immediately assess the excess staff of Covid brigade and terminate their contract from October 1, 2021. “ln the first week of October, all districts should conduct a proper study of infrastructure of field hospitals’ requirement and requirement of staff through Covid brigade and accordingly prepare a plan of action in a staggered way closing the contract and Covid brigade by the end of October 2021,” the order says.

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