The number of Covid-19 cases has been on a steep rise in Tamil Nadu in the last one month. The highest single-day spike since March 2020 was reported on April 15, 2021 with 7,987 fresh infections. The test positivity rate has also increased to 8.5%.
The total caseload in the state has reached 9,62,935, of which 76,262 cases were reported only since April 1. The active cases in the state is also at an all time high of 58,097.
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a ‘Tika Utsav’, reports of people being turned away from vaccination centres have emerged across the state due to shortage of vaccines. Health experts have called for efficient logistics and mobilisation to ensure the reduction in vaccine wastage.
The government of Tamil Nadu before the Madras High Court has accepted that COVID-19 is going out of control, while the health secretary claimed that bed occupancy is less than 10% in the state.
In the wake of the new wave, the government has announced several restrictions from April 10, including the cancellation of political and religious gatherings.
ACTIVE CASES INCREASING FASTER
The number of fresh infections and active cases in the state are growing thick and fast. From 474 daily fresh infections and 4,009 active cases on March 1, the number has multiplied to 7,987 daily fresh infections and 58,087 active cases so far. The total casualties in the state now stands at 12,999.
“The lack of contact tracing and disease surveillance system has led to the several small outbreaks in different parts of the state leading to this wave”, said Dr Sundararaman, global coordinator of the Peoples’ Health Movement.
“A high degree of denial and stigma could have led to several outbreaks which went unnoticed. The government is not successful in containing and contact tracing while the stigma attached to contracting COVID-19 was never addressed,” Dr Sundararaman added.
The acceptance of the state government that the COVID-19 is out of control testifies the failure to contain and prevent the second wave of the pandemic.
To a question of whether the massive gatherings during the assembly elections have contributed to the spike, Dr Sundararaman replied in the affirmative.
“Many other states like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat, which did not face elections, are suffering from the worst outbreak. Elections might have accelerated the spike, but elections alone cannot be blamed,” he added.
CHENNAI IN FOCUS AGAIN
The increasing total cases is reflecting in the numbers from Chennai similar to the previous year. Chennai and its surrounding districts, Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram are contributing more than 50% of the total daily infections.
The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has restarted the fever camps to keep a check on the pandemic spread, with 176 fever camps held on April 15.
From 171 fresh infections and 1,783 active cases on March 1, the number in Chennai has increased to 2,558 and 21,391 respectively. The total infections in the region has increased to 2,74,734 with 4,353 casualties.
Of the total active cases, 56.91% are in the age group of 20-49 years in Chennai. Two of the 15 zones in the corporations have more than 2,000 active cases.
Image Courtesy: GCC Twitter Handle
As per the GCC report, a total of 10,64,546 people have received the vaccination till April 15.
The corporation has also restricted the movement of people in public places, including beaches on the weekends. The Chennai police have also banned mass gatherings for 15 days starting April 15.
‘VACCINE AVAILABILITY AND VACCINATION CRUCIAL’
When the shortage of vaccine was reported from across the country, Tamil Nadu claimed to have vaccine stock for 10 days on April 9. Reports have emerged of people being turned away from vaccination centres for want of vaccines even before the 10 days period claimed by the state government was over.
On reports of wastage of vaccines, Dr Sundararaman called for ‘effective logistics and delivery’.
“The health department should ensure giving appointments to a higher number of people at a single slot and ensure delivery to reduce wastage. It is mandatory to ensure efficient logistics and mobilisation”, he added.
Commenting on the importance of vaccinating people to contain the wave, he said, “Vulnerable people require more outreach than what is available now to ensure vaccination.”
The government has also moved to vaccinate the differently-abled, athletes and traders, but the shortage and lack of ensuring delivery of vaccines remain as huge issues.