The graph of the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Tamil Nadu shows almost a straight line over the past two weeks. The never before seen consistency in the reported cases, hovering between 5,800 and 6,000 particularly during the last seven consecutive days, has raised several questions. Not only that, the number of deaths also exhibit a similar pattern.
Meanwhile, the total discharges in the state crossed 3 lakh on August 20. The number of deaths increased to 6,239, with an addition of 842 casualties in the week. The e-pass system has been relaxed, with the government approving the pass for all those who apply.
CONSISTENT NUMBERS RAISE SUSPICION
The consistency in the number of cases has raised doubts over its reliability over the past two weeks. Considering the pandemic’s progression in other parts of the country and the world, the state should have witnessed either a possible increase or decrease in the number of new infections. However, this has not been the case, which therefore calls for closer scrutiny.
The number of cases increased by 41,080 in the week ending August 20, a marginal drop from 41, 211 from the previous week. The total infection now has crossed 3.5 lakh in the state. A highest of 5,986 cases was reported on August 20. The total discharges also crossed 3 lakh.
The number of deaths, too, has exhibited a similar pattern in line with the positive cases. The state recorded 127 deaths, the highest single day spike so far on August 15. The week also saw a marginal increase in the deaths in spite of a small drop in the positive cases.
The transport minister M R Vijaya Baskar has tested positive for the COVID-19 infection, while Kanyakumari MP H Vasantha Kumar and singer S P Balasubrahmanyam remain critical under ventilator support.
CHENNAI BREACHES 1,000 MARK AGAIN
After a gap of one week, the number of cases in the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has again breached the 1,000 mark in the last 7 consecutive days. The week added 8,290 positive cases, taking the total infections in the city to 1,21,450. The previous week had recorded 6,903 cases. The city has also recorded 2,537 deaths so far.
The Ambattur zone still has 16% active cases, the highest in the GCC region. The allegation of lapse in tracing and hygiene are reported to be pathetic.
The number of cases in other parts of the state saw a minor drop to 32,790 cases from 34,308 in the previous week. Three more districts, Theni, Coimbatore and Thoothukudi joined the club of districts to report more than 10,000 positive cases.
The death rate in Coimbatore district has increased over time, overtaking Chennai to occupy the second position next to Madurai.
E-PASS NORMS RELAXED
After severe opposition from many sections, the state government has conceded to the demand for relaxing the norms for availing e-passes from August 17. The government announced that the pass will be granted to all applicants, irrespective of their travel need. However, the government still requires the compulsory e-pass for travel between districts.
The city of Chennai saw a huge inflow of people from other districts after the relaxation, leading to traffic congestions in toll plazas. People are returning to the capital city in all possible transportation modes including two wheelers. The heavy inflow has forced the GCC to implement a more vigilant quarantine for the returnees.
LACK OF AWARENESS STILL LACKING
Even as the state government has devised plans to identify and track the COVID-19 positive cases, the fear of stigma still prevails across the society. The volunteers in the GCC limits, involved in visiting homes for fever testing have expressed that the patients are unwilling to share their travel history to enable tracing.
The corporation and the health department are investing efforts to track the travel history of the positive patients, but to no avail. The lack of awareness and the fear of stigma point to the failure of the government machinery in instilling confidence in the people. The administration has drawn flak for barricading houses with tin sheets, even in apartments where positive cases were found.
Also read: COVID-19: Tamil Nadu’s Numbers Tell a Story of Their Own