CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu reported 1,009 Covid-19 positive cases and 10 deaths on Sunday, taking the tally to 8,14,170 and toll to 12,069 while the number of active cases in the State dropped below 9,000.
State health minister C Vijayabasker, addressing reporters, revealed that 13 people who had returned from the United Kingdom and 12 of their contacts had tested positive for Covid in Tamil Nadu. Their samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune, for genome sequencing to check if they have been infected with the new strain of the coronavirus circulating in the UK.
Meanwhile, a media bulletin issued by the Directorate of Public Health said that 49 passengers who travelled from the UK from December 21 to 23 were tested and among them one person was tested positive for Covid. Approximately 2,300 passengers travelled to Chennai from the UK between November 25 and the forenoon of December 21. Of them 1,437 have been traced and tested, 12 of them testing positive, 1,224 negative while results of 201 others are awaited.
Tracing of other passengers is underway. Of the 13 who returned from the UK and tested positive, five are in Chennai, three in Thanjavur, two in Nilgiris and one passenger each in Theni, Madurai and Chengalpattu. Among the 93 contacts of these 13 patients, 12 tested positive, 76 negative and the results of five others are awaited, the bulletin said.
All the patients who returned from the UK and their positive contacts are being treated in separate isolation wards. Vijayabaskar, who addressed reporters at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, said a separate ward with 120 beds for UK returnees had been set up at the RGGGH. Similar wards would be opened in all the medical college hospitals in the State in the wake of the UK scare.
"There is no new treatment protocol to treat these patients so the protocol which we followed for other Covid patients is being followed," Vijayabaskar said.
Urging people not to panic about the new strain, he reiterated the need to wear face masks and maintain social distancing. By doing so, a second wave can be prevented, the minister said. He claimed that more youngsters were reported being affected in the UK as youngsters usually don't follow social distancing norms or wear face masks.
He said the standard operating procedures are the same for everyone, and social distancing should be followed even in political meetings.
Regarding vaccines for Covid, the health minister said that two doses of Covaxin and Covishield vaccines were given for volunteers and the trials were completed. Preparatory works are in full swing to administer the vaccines in Tamil Nadu, once they are available. He added that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami will meet with scientists and expert committee members on Monday to discuss the Covid situation and any extension of the lockdown.
The minister claimed that the newly launched Amma mini-clinics are a hit and that many people were requesting the CM to open more such clinics. For the convenience of doctors and other staff in the rural and remote areas, the clinics would close an hour early in the evenings there, he said. Therefore the clinics will function in the evenings in urban areas from 4 pm to 8 pm but only till 7 pm in rural areas.
In Chennai, around 75 to 100 people visit the clinics daily, he said. About 800 doctors, staff nurses and attenders will be recruited for these clinics. The Health Department will open 650 more clinics this month and in a phased manner 2,000 clinics will be launched across the State soon, the minister said.
Meanwhile, Chennai reported 290 new Covid cases on the day while its neighbouring districts of Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur reported 67, 35 and 48 cases respectively. Chennai was the sole district reporting over 100 cases. Nine districts reported cases in the single digits.
Tamil Nadu tested 64,283 samples and 63,919 people on the day. The State had 8,947 active cases after 1,091 people were discharged following treatment.
According to the media bulletin, all the deceased had comorbid conditions.