CHENNAI: Recording its highest single-day spike in Covid-19 cases so far, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-Shar) in Sriharikota witnessed 33 fresh infections on Sunday, sending the administration into a frenzy. This comes barely a week after the lockdown restrictions were relaxed and operations resumed with 50 per cent staff at India’s sole spaceport.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu reported 5,783 fresh cases on the day, driving up the tally to 4,63,480, of which only 51,458 are active. The State also reported 88 deaths, taking the toll to 7,836. The fresh spike in Sriharikota came to light when 110 people residing inside the highly-guarded spaceport and the three Shar housing colonies in Sullurpet were tested as part of the contact-tracing exercise.
The results, which were out on Sunday, revealed 33 positive cases. Significantly, many among the infected carried very-high viral load, as per the test reports accessed by TNIE. Among the positive cases, three were employees working at the Solid Propellant Rocket Booster Plant and the Solid Propellant Plant, where works for the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle were underway. The fresh surge throws up a challenge for Shar authorities as hospital beds have become scarce in Chennai and Nellore.
As Covid cases surge, Sriharikota authorities face slew of challenges
The fresh surge throws up a huge challenge for Shar authorities as hospital beds have become scarce in Chennai and Nellore, the two nearest cities to where most cases are referred. Sources said the Aryabhata guest house in Sriharikota which has been converted into an isolation ward is also full. Due to bed shortage, the Shar authorities have already taken a policy decision to give home treatment to employees who test Covid-19 positive and are asymptomatic.
Meanwhile, the officials engaged in containment activities blamed the employees for failing to adhere to lockdown measures and for overlooking the seriousness of the disease, for the fresh spike. For instance, an employee after giving throat swab samples on Saturday visited the Satish Dhawan Memorial Hospital and consulted a general surgeon.
“This is a case of sheer negligence. The entire hospital needed thorough sanitisation and fumigation. The general surgeon is kept in quarantine for 48 hours and all surgical emergencies had to be referred outside. The outpatient ward of the hospital was closed. All this because of one person’s mistake. Such things are derailing all the containment measures being undertaken,” alleged an official of the Shar contact-tracing team.
87% TN cases cured
Even as Tamil Nadu is witnessing a surge in cases, as many as 87 per cent of the infected people have been cured of the infection. The state has also ramped up testing even as 84,034 people were tested on the day, taking the total number of people tested so far to 51,26,231. Among the 88 casualties on Sunday, six victims had no comorbidities. Chennai recorded 955 new cases and 17 deaths on Sunday, recording fewer than 1,000 daily cases for the fourth consecutive day. Total number of cases in Chennai so far stood at 1,41,654. Chennai’s neighbouring districts of Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram recorded 361, 246 and 196 new cases respectively.