Note it down to break the chain of coronavirus infection

Volunteers of the National Service Scheme (NSS) in Kerala will distribute 1.5-lakh 'Break The Chain Diaries' to shopkeepers and drivers in over 300 panchayats across the state to fight coronavirus.

30 Jun 2020 | By Aultrin Vijay

The idea is to promote the use of diary among drivers and shopkeepers for efficiently tracking and tracing people with Covid-19 infection

The NSS volunteers of vocational higher secondary schools (NSS-VHSE) in Kerala have come up with a novel idea to beat the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) – noting down your travel history. The idea is to promote the use of diary among drivers and shopkeepers for efficiently tracking and tracing people with Covid-19 infection, thus curtailing the community spread of the contagion.

The initiative, mainly aimed at taxi drivers and shopkeepers, took shape after an auto rickshaw driver and his family members tested positive for the virus in Thiruvananthapuram on 19 June 2020. Since then the police and health authorities have been scrambling to track and trace all those who came in contact with the driver, and have put measures in place to limit the potential spread of the virus.

Kerala, which has been lauded by many states and nations for its Covid-19 fight, saw this new situation more challenging than ever, fearing a community spread. In order to prevent such incidents in future, students of vocational higher secondary schools will start distributing diaries under the 'Break The Chain Diary' campaign to shopkeepers and taxi drivers in over 300 panchayats across the state during the first phase.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched the campaign on 25 June 2020 and urged people to jot down details of their travel in a diary. NSS volunteers are asking shopkeepers and auto-taxi drivers to keep a record of their work by writing down the details of customers. This includes name, address, date and time of visit to place. These details will help health officials to make route maps, know primary contacts if any customer tests positive. The initiative is said to play a crucial role in the determination of the source of infection.

“All should write the details of their travel in a diary and keep it safe. Break the chain campaign will be intensified. People’s cooperation is needed to find out the source of infection in persons whose disease has been confirmed," Vijayan said during the launch of the campaign.

Volunteers from over 320 NSS units in the state will make and distribute around 1.5 lakh diaries by July 1 and make drivers and shopkeepers aware why such a move to break the infection is necessary when cases with unknown sources are rising.

“People’s cooperation is needed to find the source of infection. Also, in order to prevent community spread, these details will be helpful. All NSS-VHSE volunteers have started updating their diary at home and we thought of extending the campaign. We will be seeking the support of the health department and police. The department has agreed to provide funds for printing diaries. Now, each NSS unit will arrange funds with the support of well-wishers in respective areas,” said state programme coordinator, NSS-VHSE, Ranjith P.

VHSE students pursuing printing technology course in their curriculum have designed a diary that has a specific format for entering details each day. Also, it provides an awareness note about preventive measures. Each NSS unit will customise the design to include their school name and logo.

The diaries will be distributed by volunteers, including teachers, programme officers, PTA members and alumni, with the support of respective civic bodies by following the state's existing Covid-19 protocol.

“The diary needs to be updated by drivers and shopkeepers and customers shouldn’t be allowed to touch it as it will increase chances of infection. NSS programme officers in each school, civic body members, PTA members, former students will accompany students to distribute diaries and give awareness classes,” said Ranjith.