To prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Tamil Nadu government has sprung into action. The state has issued fresh guidelines for travellers from other states, and the police force has been asked to monitor it. Districts have also been directed to take necessary measures to check the virus’s spread.
According to the Tamil calendar, this is the month of Aadi till August 16, when families go on pilgrimages and carry out their annual clothes shopping. Since temples and commercial places were already buzzing with crowds, the government decided to close temples from public access as well as popular marketplaces in some districts to prevent more crowding.
Simultaneously, districts with low sero prevalence have been asked to boost vaccinations.
SURGE IN CASES
The COVID-19-induced lockdown situation was heading toward normalcy in July, with the number of cases steadily decreasing in Tamil Nadu. But daily fresh cases saw a sudden increase last week. Though the state recorded a decline in cases on August 2 and 3, these shot up on August 4.
The daily reported cases were 1,949 on Wednesday, August 4. Exactly a week ago, on July 28, the state recorded 1,756 cases.
The daily death toll has also increased; it crossed the 30 mark after two weeks, recording 38 deaths on August 4.
The daily number of RT-PCR testing has, however, remained fairly stagnant, at around 1.5 lakhs per day.
Tami Nadu was easing lockdown curbs every week in July. With the sudden rise in cases in July-end, the government announced that the lockdown would continue till August 9 without any further relaxations.
The Tamil Nadu government issued fresh guidelines for inter-state travellers as well. Those coming from Kerala, through any mode of transport, must have a RT-PCR negative report from an Indian Council of Medical Research or ICMR-approved lab within 72 hours of travel or produce certificates of two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The department also insisted that the second dose of the vaccine should be taken 14 days before the journey.
Districts with lower sero prevalence, such as Erode and Coimbatore, have been instructed to focus on increasing vaccination coverage. In districts with higher prevalence of COVID-19, such as Chennai and Virudhunagar, health officials have been told to enforce COVID-appropriate behaviour.
Coimbatore, which has been reporting the maximum number of cases in the state, has imposed a 10 a.m to 5 p.m curfew on shops.
With the Aadi sale gathering crowds in textile showrooms, the Greater Chennai Corporation issued orders last week to shut down shops in nine commercial areas of the city till August 9. Chennai has been reporting the second highest number of cases in the state.
After the health secretary’s call last week to contain the spread of COVID-19, every district has announced restrictions on devotees visiting temples.
MAXIMUM USAGE OF VACCINE
Over the past couple of months, Tamil Nadu has not only managed to achieve zero wastage of COVID-19 vaccines, it has also extracted as many as 5,88,243 extra doses of vaccines, according to data provided by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare till July 20.
Tamil Nadu topped the extra vaccine extracted from the distributed doses. It is important to note that Tamil Nadu received a limited number of vaccines compared with many other states.
The data also revealed that the state, as of July 20, received 1,50,57,290 free vaccine doses from the Centre. This was less as compared to other major States, such as Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
Even though Tamil Nadu is more populated than Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan, these states have received more vaccines from the Union government.
Commenting on the disparity in vaccine supply, Thirunavukarasu of the Tamil Nadu Science Forum, said: “it appears like Tamil Nadu is receiving a stepchild-like treatment from the Union government compared with other states”.
After pressure from the Tamil Nadu government, the Centre has marginally boosted vaccine supply to the state for August.
Tamil Nadu health minister Ma Subramanian announced that the state had received 79 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccines for August. Of these, 17 lakh doses would go to the private sector and the balance would be used by the state government.
The Tamil Nadu urban local body polls are likely to be held before December 2021. Political parties are prepping up for the same. It must be observed that with the state Assembly elections in April 2021, the COVID-19 protocol was largely ignored, as a result of which there was massive spread of the infection.