New Delhi: In a bid to check the outbreak of health-related “secondary disasters" in flood-ravaged Kerala, the state government has asked people in relief camps to stay away from their homes until drinking water, gas pipelines and electricity wirings are made safe.

The public health division of the directorate of health services on Sunday launched an immediate post-flood recovery activity plan focusing on checking short- and longer-term risks to health from food contamination, giving practical advice to people willing to re-enter their homes, deployment of clean-up workers and prevention of health-related secondary disasters.

“People should not return home before it is safe in terms of structure, electrical, cooking gas, etc. Communicate the same to Local Self Government (LSG) authorities, rescue and revenue officials for coordination. Remember threats to food and water safety from contamination of supplies and surfaces by flood waters," the activity plan said.

“Maintain hygienic and sanitary precautions until the clean-up is complete. Ensure electrical safety with the help of electricians before switching on electricity main switches or household appliances. Watch out for hidden reptiles -- snakes, etc inside homes or shelves, storage spaces etc. All please comply with technical guidance of Health Department officials," it further said.

The government has also issued a caution on using generators.

“Be aware of risk of carbon monoxide poisoning cases where generators are continuously used. This can be avoided by ensuring proper ventilation, and not placing the generators in closed spaces," the plan document said.

Kerala health minister K.K. Shailaja said the water level has decreased in several areas, but that it may be possible that medical facilities have not reached certain regions due to lack of transportation.

“Currently our priority is health and sanitation. Medical professionals are finding it difficult to reach the affected areas. We have planned a major health drive to prevent communicable diseases likely to emerge after the flood," Shailaja said.

The state health department has constituted ground level guiding and supervising teams, each with 3 to 5 members including accredited social health activist (ASHA) worker, Arogya Sena member, elected ward member, NGO volunteer and a mandatory health staff.

Each team is responsible for supervising activity in 100 houses and can subdivide responsibility among themselves.

Depending upon the severity of flooding, the 14 districts of Kerala are grouped under three categories.

Highly affected areas are those that are waterlogged for more than five days.

They include more than 50% of panchayat and municipal areas. Districts under this category are Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Idukki , Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Trissur, Palakkad and Malappuram.

Secondly, Kozhikkode, Kottayam and Kannur districts fall in “moderately affected" category that are waterlogged for three to five days, comprising 30-50% of panchayats and municipal areas.

Thirdly, Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kasaragod districts fall into the mildly affected districts which are water logged for less than three days with less than 30% areas affected.

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