CHENNAI: The Covid positivity rate recorded at Chennai Corporation’s fever camps has come down from 31 per cent in the first week of July, to 18 per cent in August. As of Thursday, 16,524 out of the 88,247 samples lifted from fever camps, returned positive, with a positivity rate of 18 per cent. However, around the same time last month, on July 7, fever camps saw the highest positivity rate of 31 per cent, as 10,569 samples came back positive out of 37,616. It was in the first week of July that the civic body ramped up tests to 10,000 a day, while close to 1,800 samples were drawn from fever camps.
Experts interpreting this data say that it is a good sign – along with drop in daily cases – indicating that the spread is actually slowing down. “Fever camps were held mostly in hotspots and they tested only symptomatic patients, contacts, those with Influenza-like-Illnesses and Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses. With focused testing, a huge fall in the rate shows symptomatic cases too have come down,’’ said former Director of Public Health Dr K Kolandasamy.
While about 30,000 people attended the camps in July daily, in August, it came down to around 26,000. This dip in attendance indicates that fewer people have been coming forward for testing after the intense lockdown was lifted on July 5. However, the number of samples drawn is same. To improve testing at work places, the civic body has expanded its camps to markets and adjoining streets as well. “Apart from the camps held at the Urban Primary Health Centres and hotspots, there are mobile medical units (MMUs) for busy areas like markets,’’ an official with the Corporation’s Public Health Department said.
The official said that MMUs are held only in Corporation zones where it is required. “Out of the 500 camps held daily, 50 are mobile camps. Announcements about the camp are given an hour before it starts.”
As of Thursday, 16.46 lakh had attended 28,710 camps. Among them, 93,740 ILI cases were picked up, and 88,247 samples taken. Kolandasamy said that the fever camps were rigorous as the same doctors went to the same hotspots daily, while door-to-door fever staff went through streets to pick up symptomatic cases. “The results (low positivity rate) are a reward for the good containment work done,’’ he said.
Speaking to Express, Corporation Commissioner G Prakash said that the fever camps were indeed a game-changer. “Citizens need to make use of this opportunity. If not for themselves, they must at least bring in their neighbours and elderly people whom they can help,’’ he said. After hovering around the 1,200 mark for almost a month, the city’s daily cases dropped below 1,000 (984) on Friday for the first time since June 16. Now, the daily test rate for the city is around 8 per cent.
However, experts say people must not let their guard down. “Transmission needs to come down to 100s. For that, masks, handwashing, social distancing and adequate ventilation in offices and stores, must be adhered to strictly,” said Kolandasamy.