Covid surge: Daily count inches towards 100 in TN
DPH says 93.7% of samples tested positive for XBB variant of Omicron in March, while TPR rose to 3.0%
CHENNAI: The state has witnessed a manifold increase in coronavirus infection, with the daily case count shooting up from three on February 3 to 99 cases as of Sunday. As per the whole genome sequencing (WGS) test report shared by the Directorate of Public Health, 93.7% of samples tested positive for the XBB variant of Omicron in March, while 1.5% of samples returned positive for BA.5.
Meanwhile, the test positivity rate (TPR), which stood at 0.0% (4,820 samples) on 3 February, surged to 3.0% (3,199 samples) on Sunday. Data indicates that the XBB variant, now dominant across the state, was first identified in September in the state. Since then, the sub-variant of Omicron continued to be the dominant variant in the state, until it dropped momentum in December and only regain its manifold in March.
In September 2022, 79.8% samples were tested positive for BA.5, while 3.6% samples only returned positive for XBB. However, a significant shift was observed in October as 52.4% samples came out to be positive for the XBB variant, which, by November, had surged to 78.6%. In December, the positivity rate for the XBB variant dropped to 30%.
Dr T S Selvavinayagam, the director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said the XBB variant caused mild symptoms only. “However, the public health department has had to deal with the double whammy of a surge in Covid-19 and influenza which has been spreading alongside. Testing for Covid-19 will continue as per the protocol, along with testing for influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI),” said Dr Selvavinayagam.
Giving emphasis on the importance of uninterrupted surveillance, Dr Selvavinayagam advised people, especially those with comorbidities, to steer clear of crowded places. “Those going to hospitals and health care centres should ensure that they wear face masks,” the director of public health said, adding that “the state is equipped enough to monitor the variant.”
Meanwhile, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter drafted to all the states, including Tamil Nadu, emphasised optimum testing, on Saturday. “Most cases reported in the country are largely clustered in a few states, including Kerala (26.4%), Maharashtra(21.7%), Gujarat (13.9%), Karnataka (8.6%) and Tamil Nadu (6.3%). Public health measures need to be stepped up to contain the surge,” the health secretary had said.