CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu reported 5,488 Covid-19 cases and 67 deaths on Friday taking its tally to 5,30,908 and toll to 8,685.
Chennai alone reported 989 cases while its neighbouring districts of Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur reported 265, 151 and 258 cases respectively.
After Chennai, Coimbatore recorded the highest number of new cases with 543 more people testing positive in the Western district. Salem and Cuddalore reported 288 and 254 cases respectively.
As per the media bulletin, among the deceased, seven did not have any comorbid conditions.
According to health minister C Vijayabaskar, the positivity rate in all districts in the State is now below 10 per cent.
Speaking to reporters at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH), Vijayabaskar said that while Krishnagiri and Cuddalore had been the outliers with a positivity rate of over 10 per cent, the figure had fallen in those two districts as well.
The minister was inaugurating a 120-bed ward for patients who had Covid symptoms but tested negative for coronavirus in an RT-PCR test.
"Wards for suspected Covid cases have opened in all the government medical college hospitals in the State. This is to reduce deaths," the minister said.
Vijayabaskar said that State hospitals were seeing patients with breathing difficulties whose lungs were affected althoughw they testied negative for Covid.
"These wards will admit such patients and start treatment. Even patients whose test result is awaited can get treated here," the minister said.
Vijayabaskar said the State had enough beds to cope with any surge in cases following the relaxation of the lockdown.
“There are 1.42 lakh beds available in government institutions across the State. Of them, 40,000 have oxygen lines. The government’s aim is to have oxygen lines to 50 per cent of beds in all hospitals,” he said.
"We also have to wait for another week to see what the trend of cases is like in the wake of relaxations, including opening up of public transport. People should be careful now and should wear face masks when stepping out. Without the cooperation of people the cases cannot be controlled," the minister said.
Across Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, 34,260 people were fined under the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act, 1939 (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2000 and a fine amount of Rs 71.85 lakh was collected.
"Our intention is not to collect the fine. People should wear face masks to evade the infection," the minister said.
IMA data on doctors died due to Covid-19
Vijayabaskar did not comment on data from the Indian Medical Association headquarters that showed 63 doctors from Tamil Nadu had died due to Covid.
However, he said data had been collected from the State branch of the IMA and sent it to the Union Government for its approval of solatium.
“They will consider the eligible people… Safety of frontline workers is our priority," he said.
Difference in test samples tested
Responding to the discrepancy between data recently presented to the Parliament and data shared in the State media bulletins regarding the number of samples tested till June, Vijayabaskar said the difference was because of the “data entry work”.
Meanwhile, the bulletin on Friday mentioned the discrepancy, stating, “There may be a difference in number of samples tested given here in the media bulletin and the ICMR portal in view of time-lag between test conducted, results declared that are share in real time basis by the labs to the State and the districts and the time taken for the data updation in the ICMR portal."
‘CM gets tested before every function’
The health minister mentioned that each time Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami travelled to districts or attended functions, he would take a Covid swab test and follows social distancing norms.
"Unlike other CMs, our CM goes on field visits. That is the speciality about the CM and it will encourage people," the minister said, in a response to a query about crowds gathering and flouting social distancing norms at CM functions.
"We encourage people to wear face masks and maintain social distancing," the minister said.