COIMBATORE: Coimbatore has overtaken Chennai in terms of daily case count, but measures implemented by the district administration to prevent and contain the spread of Covid appear grossly inadequate.
On Wednesday, Coimbatore reported 4,268 new cases, more than even Chennai that reported 3561 cases. On Tuesday, Coimbatore had recorded 3,632 new cases while the state capital had reported 4041 cases. Sources said sample testing increased from only 10,000 earlier which was why the number of new cases was rising.
Worse yet to come?
Officials cannot afford to lose time as the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has warned that the next 20 days would be crucial. District Collector S Nagarajan assured The New Indian Express that they will not lose focus. Explaining the action plan, Nagarajan said the focus is on testing, tracing, and treatment. He expressed hope that the Covid curve would flatten once the seven-day intense lockdown ends.
The ground reality does not reflect the Collector's confidence. For instance, fever screening camps, which play an important role in diagnosing affected persons, are few and far between. A senior official in the city Corporation said that around 90 camps are being conducted at present.
Covid updates for May 26 in TN— T Muruganandham (@muruga_TNIE) May 26, 2021
29,717 Covid patients discharge- Total: 16,13,221
475 Covid patients died: Total: 21,815
New Cases in Chennai go down below 4,000 (3,561)
New cases across TN: 33,764
Active cases: 3,10,224
Samples tested:19,45,260@xpresstn @NewIndianXpress pic.twitter.com/DaL7qIhAYe
"There are plans to increase the number but we do not have the manpower. Recruitment of workers is underway and once it is over, camps would be held in 120 locations in the city," the official said.
Commissioner of the city Corporation P Kumaravel Pandian said the civic body has intensified a drive to spray disinfectant across the city using mobile units. He added that streets which report over three cases are now being declared as containment zones. He said workers will be conducting door-to-door surveys to identify people with symptoms of Influenza-like-illness (ILI) and Covid-19.
Vaccination drive stutters
Vaccination, which is the key weapon in the battle against Covid, has hit a roadblock due to a short supply of stock. An official in-charge of the vaccination drive said they are yet to receive information on the next supply of stock.
Coimbatore North MLA Amman K Arjunan suggested that vaccination camps be held for all in primary health centres. "When people gather in one location, there are high chances of virus spreading. So, the number of vaccination camps must be increased," he said.
Coimbatore MP PR Natarajan said the state government must work on a war-footing to ramp up the beds with oxygen supply. "People must help break the chain by following guidelines such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance," Natarajan said.
Private hospitals rendered useless
Unlike in Chennai, private hospitals in Coimbatore are not in a position to hold vaccination camps as they have run out of vaccines. AK Ravikumar, state secretary of Indian Medical Association-Tamil Nadu chapter said private hospitals are facing difficulty over two things: oxygen supply and workforce.
Ravikumar said private hospitals which largely depend on oxygen cylinders are facing difficulties in refilling, and hence had to be very selective in admitting patients.
As for the workforce, he said, "Managing manpower is the biggest challenge and we cannot make staff work double shifts. We are also facing a lot of stress at this juncture, which we fear our life span would be reduced by five years." Following a representation, the district administration has extended help, he added.
Ravikumar said the private hospitals which are dependent on oxygen cylinders are encountering hardship during the refilling process. Due to this, they had to admit fewer patients for treatment.
To tide over the situation, Ravikumar said they have recently met the District Collector and submitted details of the daily oxygen requirement of the private hospitals.
"The district administration has assured it would take steps to meet these requirements. Similarly, the administration has also advised the hospitals to give an SOS call if there is any need," Ravikumar added.
With the district going into complete lockdown, he said the impact of the curfew could be observed only after 15 days.