Lockdown a blunt instrument, increase restrictions in worst-hit areas alone: TN health panel

This is the seventh meeting the Health Experts Committee had with the Chief Minister since March. Dr Sowmya Swaminathan joined the meeting via video conferencing from Geneva.

Published: 29th June 2020 03:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th June 2020 03:05 PM   |  A+A-

coronavirus, COVID 19, PPE

Swab test being done for COVID-19 on slum children at Sowcarpet, Chennai. (Photo | P Jawahar, EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Health Experts Committee which held a two-hour-long discussion with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami at the Secretariat on Monday did not recommend an extension of lockdown but urged the government to increase the restrictions in areas where the health indicators are not satisfactory.

This is the seventh meeting the committee had with the Chief Minister since March. Dr Sowmya Swaminathan joined the meeting via video conferencing from Geneva.

“We did not recommend an extension of the lockdown. Lockdown is a blunt instrument - it is not a solution at all times; it should be enforced when there is a need," said Dr Prabhdeep Kaur, ICMR Scientist-E and Deputy Director, National Institute of Epidemiology.

Dr Kaur further said, "We cannot be under lockdown always. We have to assess the situation of a district or taluk based on the indicators given by the World Health Organisation or the health experts committee. Enforcing lockdown in all areas is not necessary.”

She said in the past meetings, the committee had suggested that the number of tests should be increased and the government implemented that. “In Chennai, around 10,000 tests per day are being done. That is a good initiative. Similarly, across Tamil Nadu, the number of tests has improved.  Nearly 32,000 tests are being done per day,” she added.   

Although so far the focus was on Chennai, during the last two weeks, there has been an upward trend in the infection in districts like Trichy, Madurai, Vellore and Tiruvannamalai and the doubling time had come down, she said. So, the initiatives enforced in Chennai should be replicated in these districts too.  

Pointing out that fever camps had been a successful initiative, she said due to this the trend in Chennai became favourable. “This should be replicated in the above districts. In Chennai, due to the lockdown, the doubling time of the infection has increased while transmission has come down. This trend should be sustained. Reducing death and early deduction is our motto,” she said.

Asked whether the health experts committee had recommended Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), Dr Kaur said, "There is no need for RAT because RT-PCR is efficient. It is the best. Even if RAT test is negative, we have to conduct RT-PCR test again."


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