CHENNAI: As Tamil Nadu stands at the precipice of an intensive poll campaign, Health officials have acknowledged a surge in Covid-19 cases and instructed local health workers to fall back on proven containment and surveillance strategies.
Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan, attributing the surge to family and workplace clusters, has also told the department to review the availability of beds to prepare for a spike in cases.
In the past few weeks, Tamil Nadu has seen a gradual rise in the number of new cases as well as in the test positivity rate. The State reported an average of 451 new cases a day between February 14-20. This rose to an average of 499 cases a day between February 28 to March 6. Accordingly, the test positivity rate rose slightly from 0.9 per cent to 1 per cent in that period, with Chennai, Coimbatore, Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram, and Tirupur districts recording growth in cases.
The capital, for instance, reported a total of 1,157 cases from February 21 to 27. However, from February 28 to March 6, it reported 1,361 cases. The test positivity that was 1.5 per cent on February 27 rose to 2 per cent on March 6. Fortunately, there has not been a similar spike in the number of Covid deaths reported.
To quell any possible second wave in cases, the Health Department plans to again rope in the efforts of the social welfare department, volunteers, active NGOs with capacity and Self Health Groups. Radhakrishnan, in an official communication on Saturday, instructed officials to ensure effective inter-departmental coordination as done during the peak of the pandemic.
He has asked the Director of Industries, and Commerce to monitor industrial establishments for adherence to standard operating procedures after a cluster was reported from a training Institute in Chennai.
“Training institutions are being strictly monitored after clusters were reported in the Commercial Taxes Staff Training Institute in Chennai. The first four cases were reported and, following testing, another 16 were found. There have been no new cases after that,” he told The New Indian Express.
He has further instructed officials to review the availability of beds in Covid Care Centre in the event of a sudden surge in cases as most have been closed owing to a fall in new cases in the past two months.
The department’s analysis has revealed that family clusters emerged due to a failure to comply with home quarantine guidelines. "Many people who opted for home quarantine are not following the home quarantine guidelines strictly… So, once again local health inspectors will strictly monitor those quarantined at home,” he said.
TN reported an average 451 new cases a day between February 14-20. This rose to an avg 499 cases a day between Feb 28 & Mar 6. Accordingly, the test positivity rose slightly from 0.9 % to 1 % in that period. @xpresstn @NewIndianXpress #CoronaVirusUpdateshttps://t.co/bXtpaMrxH5 pic.twitter.com/lA7HHrgcmW— Omjasvin M D (@omjasvinMD) March 7, 2021
In another official communication to Collectors and the Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner on Friday, Radhakrishnan instructed officials to ensure that hostels, hotels, training centres and education institutions were closely also monitored.
The Deputy Directors of Health in all districts and Chief Health Officers in cities and local bodies have been told to collect and submit daily reports on the source of infection without fail so that the spread can be contained. Radhakrishnan also stressed on aggressive testing and contact tracing.
“March is a critical month for us to bring the numbers down or go the Maharashtra, Punjab and Kerala way (cases have been surging in those States),” he warned, pointing to the stagnation of figures in certain districts as a worrisome trend.
(With inputs from Omjasvin MD)