The visual of MK Stalin donning a PPE suit and inspecting a Covid ward at ESI hospital in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore has won him praise for being the only chief minister to have ventured into such a zone. The optics seemed necessary as he was coming under attack for neglecting the Western zone where the ruling party had not performed well in the recent polls. While the Covid curve in the northern districts, including Chennai, has been sliding down, it was spiralling in the Western districts of Coimbatore, Tiruppur and Erode. Coimbatore saw a total of 20,057 cases from May 17 to 23, which went up further to 23,839 in the next week. Cases in Erode and Tiruppur too rose during that week. But the same period saw Chennai’s curve dipping from 34,339 to 18,173 cases. The good news in the beginning of this month is a plateauing of daily cases in the Western districts too, with less than 4,000 being reported since May 28.
The slow decrease in cases in TN has now led to a clamour for relaxation of the intense lockdown, forcing the CM to appeal to people to share responsibility in this fight. It is common wisdom that repeated lockdowns cannot be a solution as they have hurt the livelihoods of many sections. But one also needs to understand that the state has been pushed to this corner due to the nonchalance of people, even during the lockdown. In Chennai alone, over 13% of motorists on the streets were reportedly carrying fake e-passes or ID cards of essential workers, frustrating the efforts of the police. Cops have been guarding important junctions across the state, checking vehicles to ensure they come under exemption categories like health staff and media. But the police records have violators misusing their passes, including a doctor who was on his way to pick up his girlfriend. Isn’t it time people got more humane, seeing cops guarding their checkposts in this ruthless 40°C heat and health workers in suffocating PPE gear in non-airconditioned wards? The least a citizen can do is act responsibly, keeping in mind the visuals of patients gasping for breath and the queues at various crematoria.