Kerala’s KK Shailaja Named World’s ‘Top Thinker’ 2020 For COVID-19, Beats NZ’s Jacinda Ardern

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In a world where some people still have doubts over women taking up key political positions in the government, many inspirational women have time and again thrown this stereotype out of the window with their commendable work and spirit. In fact, six countries that are currently winning the coronavirus battle have one thing in common– women leaders. In March, a virologist on BBC’s panel lauded Kerala’s health institutions headed under KK Shailaja for controlling the coronavirus outbreak as well as the rumors around it. And now, she now has another feather of achievement added to her cap.

As per a report in The New Indian Express, a monthly British magazine called ‘Prospect’ has announced Kerala’s teacher-turned-health minister KK Shailaja as the World’s Top Thinker 2020 for the COVID-19 age. She ranks number one and is the only Indian in the entire list of 50 personalities, which was finalized as per 20,000 votes cast and counted in a public ballot.

Praising the minister, the magazine wrote, “Shailaja teacher was the right woman in the right place in 2020. “When Covid-19 was still “a China story” in January, she not only accurately foresaw its inevitable arrival but also fully grasped the implications. She rapidly got the WHO’s full “test, trace and isolate” drill implemented in the state, and bought crucial time by getting a grip of the airports, and containing the first cases to arrive on Chinese flights.”

“So deft was her handling of a 2018 outbreak of the deadly Nipah disease that it was commemorated in a film, Virus,” it added.

Her previous international accolades include being invited by the UN to speak in an event organized to honor our frontline heroes of the coronavirus pandemic and being hailed as a ‘coronavirus slayer’ and ‘rock star health minister’ in an article by the UK newspaper ‘The Guardian’.

Deccan Chronicle reports that the second position in the UK magazine’s list is held by New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Talking about Jacinda, the magazine writes, “Her instinctive, bridge-building leadership after the Christchurch mosque massacre was an inspiration. And her COVID-19 strategy—devised in lockstep with chief scientist Juliet Gerrard—built with intelligence and empathy on a foundation of unflinching honesty to achieve some of the world’s best results.”

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You may have seen that today we announced a range of major steps to further protect the health of New Zealanders and reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Below is a quick summary: 1. We have increased New Zealand’s border restrictions. This now means that anyone entering New Zealand from any country aside from the Pacific Islands is required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. This decision will mean New Zealand will have some of the widest ranging and toughest border restrictions in the world. 2. We also announced a temporary ban on all cruise ships coming into New Zealand. This will be in place from midnight tonight until at least 30 June 2020. 3. New border restrictions apply to people, not products. We will be working to ensure we keep freight routes open for imports and exports – so there’s no need to rush out and stock up at the supermarket. 4. Protecting New Zealanders health is our number one focus and we’re taking strong actions to respond to the changing global situation, however, all New Zealanders have a role to play in stopping further spread of the virus. Stay home if you’re unwell and keep up simple things like washing your hands and sneezing or coughing into your elbow. 5. We are also encouraging New Zealanders to avoid all non-essential travel overseas. This helps reduce the risk of a New Zealander bringing COVID-19 back with them. If you’re on Facebook, you can see more details on my page. As always though, if you have any questions, do post them below and I’ll try my best to cover them in another update. Till then, stay tuned for details of our business continuity and support plan, which will be announced on Tuesday.

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Other people who made it to the coveted list include

  • Historian of slavery Olivette Otele
  • Writer and Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel
  • French economist and Nobel prize winner Esther Duflo
  • Philosopher Cornel West
  • Environmentalist David Attenborough.

A total of 26 women have made it to the list, making up the majority of names as announced by the influential UK magazine. The future definitely seems to be female!

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