Chennai: The government of Puducherry has put off the decision to reopen schools on July 16, after more than 20 kids were hospitalised after testing positive for the viral infection.
Overall, however, fresh infections have slightly dipped over the past seven days in the Union territory (UT) compared with the previous week. The Union territory has vaccinated a total of 6,28,616 people, while 1,21,654 have received both doses.
The government has extended the relaxed lockdown till July 31 with permission for reopening tourist spots with 50% capacity. Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sought permission for conducting temple festivals, despite the third wave threat looming large.
FRESH INFECTIONS DIP, CHILDREN CONTRACT INFECTION
The past seven days till, July 16, recorded 812 fresh infections against 1,060 in the previous week. The total infections in the UT increased to 1,19,509 with 1,248 active cases and 1,775 casualties.
After a gap of more than 100 days the UT recorded no deaths on July 11. The week ending July 16 recorded a total of seven deaths. But, the fatality rate in the UT is 1.48%, the 11th highest in the country.
School for students of class 9 to 12 and colleges that were scheduled to open on July 16 have now been suspended indefinitely. The decision was called off after lower age group children tested positive during the week.
The 20 children, who contracted COVID-19, were admitted to the Indira Gandhi Government Medical College Hospital for treatment.
Voluntary organisations, parents, students unions and political parties had been demanding the dropping of plans to reopen schools, considering this age group is not being vaccinated.
MASS AND DOORSTEP VACCINATION DRIVES
A survey report found that 95% of COVID-19 positive patients who have not taken even a single dose of vaccine required a ventilator, ICU or oxygen support during hospitalisation.
The vaccination drive was speeded after the report. The health department embarked on a mass three-day vaccination camp, targeting to vaccinate 10,000 people per day. But, with the hesitancy of vaccines decreasing and threat of another wave, 36,000 people received their shots between July 12 and 14.
From July 15, the department has initiated door to door vaccination through primary health centres (PHC). The PHCs close to medical colleges were selected for the process and officials from five PHCs along with staff from private medical colleges are also being deputed for the work.
Despite such moves, less than 1% of the population has received two doses of vaccination so far, while one-third has taken at least one dose.
CONTAINMENT WORKS HAMPERED AFTER ELECTION RESULTS
The absence of a cabinet for around two months after the election results were announced on May 2, has hampered COVID-19 containment work in Puducherry.
"Finally, on July 11, two months and nine days after the BJP-NR Congress won the Puducherry elections, portfolios of ministers have been allocated", R K Radha Krishnan, associate editor of Frontline tweeted.
A Anand, president of the Puducherry unit of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), said: "The chief minister was away in Chennai for treatment for COVID-19 immediately after the election results. People were running from pillar to post for treatment then. A section of volunteer groups and the health department ensured that available facilities were utilised and people were saved".
The demand for COVID-19 relief has also been raised by political parties, with no constructive announcements from the new N Rangasam- led government. The Communist Party of India (CPI) held protests across the UT seeking Rs 6,000 cash relief, 10kg rice, 14 essential commodities through ration shops and reduction of fuel prices.
The CPI said BJP and NR Congress should bury their differences over portfolio allocation and concentrate on developmental issues.
Hard bargaining between the two alliance partners has delayed the swearing of the cabinet, 50 days after the chief minister took oath.