50% of TN’s Covid tally from five districts alone
Inter-district travel restrictions must definitely be looked at to contain cases,” said an official.
CHENNAI: Covid cases in Tamil Nadu touched a new high of 11,681 infections and 53 deaths on Wednesday, with five districts, Chennai, Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, and Coimbatore, accounting for over 50 per cent of the day’s caseload. This has raised concerns on the need to restrict inter-district travel.
Health officials, on condition of anonymity, have said a decision needs to be taken at a higher level on such restrictions soon, given that 50 per cent of cases are concentrated in these five districts. “This is normally done with the approval of the CM and the Health Minister, and different departments. Inter-district travel restrictions must definitely be looked at to contain cases,” said an official.
Dr K Kolandasamy, former director of public health, said travel restrictions must be brought in air-conditioned buses and coaches of trains that are plying inter-district. “Open-ventilated buses won’t be as dangerous as the closed ones,” he said, adding that non-essential activists, like cinema and religious worship places, must be restricted till cases come down.
The five districts have also accounted for about 50 per cent of the caseload in all 37 districts that now stands at 10,25,059. These five districts have 5,20,073 cases as of now. On Wednesday alone, these very districts have recorded 6,198 cases (about 53 per cent). With as many as 2,94,073 total cases, Chennai accounts for 28 per cent of the total State tally. Coincidentally, even during the peak recorded last year, Chennai and its surrounding districts contributed to the maximum of the State’s tally.
‘Only sustainable strategy against Covid is to reduce fresh index cases’
Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said that the only sustainable strategy against Covid is for containment and reduction of fresh index cases. “We may get more cases due to contacts this time. We aim to reduce index cases,” Radhakrishnan told Express. The cases saw a steep rise in April with the daily-case average at 8,931 from April 11 to April 21. During this period, the State recorded a whopping 98,243 cases.
Meanwhile, experts said that the reflection of cases is higher in Chennai and surrounding districts because of biased testing. “There are better testing facilities in the city and nearby areas. So the reflection is higher,” said Dr Subramanian Swaminathan, Infectious Diseases Specialist at Gleneagles Global Health City. He added that travel restrictions are difficult at this stage and there could only be disaster mitigation efforts. “Travel restrictions may starve the poor.
I would rather focus on getting people to respect social distancing and Covid safety norms,” said Swaminathan, adding that only a full lockdown would be the way to go incase nothing works. Chennai’s hospitals, too, are facing a bed-stress with the rising number of cases. On Wednesday, the city recorded 3,750 new cases and 18 deaths. The number of active cases in Chennai stands a little shy of the 30,000-mark, at 29,256.