Abandoned Kerala Houseboats to Turn Into COVID-19 Isolation Wards

The houseboats have seen zero business due to the ongoing pandemic. 

2 min read
A houseboat on the Kerala backwaters.

Kerala’s famous houseboats in Alappuzha, which have been abandoned due to the ongoing lockdown, will operate as isolation wards to battle COVID-19 if the need arises.

Alappuzha district collector M Anjana said that in case of an emergency, these boats can be converted into wards to isolate patients.

The district administration has identified 5,806 beds with attached toilets in Alappuzha district, from hotels, resorts, hostels and lodges in order to accommodate patients if needed, as there are not many hospitals in the district, the collector added.

If this doesn’t suffice, an option of converting the houseboats has also been discussed. The boats will have at least 1,500-2,000 beds which can be converted to isolation wards, the collector stated.

According to reports, the district administration had a meeting with the All Kerala Houseboat Owners Association, and the latter agreed to give their boats in cases of emergency.

The collector added that issues such as logistics and bringing all the boats to one location have been deliberated upon.

The famous houseboats of Alappuzha have seen zero business due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Post the 2018 floods in Kerala, the houseboats have fared poorly due to fewer guests.

With the current situation, it will take months for the tourism industry to pick up and the houseboat owners do not expect to see any foreign tourists coming in the near future.

During the floods of 2018, the 1000-odd houseboats of Alappuzha were used to evacuate over 30,000 people in the district, with many people allowed to stay in the boats.

The district currently has over 7,000 people under observation, with 11 confirmed cases undergoing treatment.

(This story was originally published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)

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