The COVID-19 pandemic is creating havoc in Tamil Nadu, with the number of positive cases closing in on the one lakh mark. The state recorded its highest single-day spike of 4,343 cases on July 2. SARS-CoV-2 has spread further south as well, with more infections reported from Madurai.
The ongoing lockdown in the state, with relaxations in place, has been extended till July 31, with the suspension of public transport till July 15. The total lockdown in Chennai and parts of neighbouring districts has been extended till July 5.
The opposition parties have slammed the government for its failure to arrange for a sufficient number of Vande Bharat flights to the state. A total of eight members of the legislative assembly, including the higher education minister, have tested positive so far, as have scores of front-line workers.
Number of Cases Close to 1 Lakh
The total number of infections in the state is 98,392, with 41,047 active cases. The week before July 2 saw an increase of 27,415 cases, against 18,646 cases in the previous week. The last seven days have seen more than 3,600 cases everyday, with 4,343 cases on July 2, the first time the 4,000 mark was breached in the state.
Cases from parts of Tamil Nadu aside from Chennai saw a considerable increase in the past week, with 12,759 cases as compared to 8,219 cases in the previous week. The district of Madurai has seen a surge in cases of COVID-19, with a total of 3,133 positive cases so far. It now has the fourth highest number of cases in the state, and is only next to Chennai, Chengalpattu and Thiruvallur.
The state has recorded 410 deaths in the last week, with the total death toll due to COVID-19 at 1,321. The number of people, above 60 years of age, who were infected rose to 11,811; those below 12 years of age is 4,836. The state has tested more than 30,000 samples in the last seven consecutive days.
Members of the legislative assembly from both, the ruling party and the opposition, who have tested positive for COVID-19, rose to eight. Four All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam members, including the higher education minister K.P. Anbazhagan and four from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have tested positive so far.
The state government has repeatedly denied the possibility of community spread even as Tamil Nadu heads to one lakh cases.
Chennai Corp Records 62,598 Cases
The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has the highest number of cases in the state so far, but with a reduced share of the overall tally. The city has 63% of the cases as on July 2; it contributed to 67% of the cases on June 25. Those migrating to their home towns from Chennai have reduced the city’s share.
The total tally of the GCC is 62,598, with 22,686 active cases. The past week saw an addition of 14,656 cases, as compared to the 10,424 cases in the previous week. The mortality rate in Chennai is 1.54% while the total number of patients discharged is at 62%.
Woman Dies After Erroneous Discharge
Local media reported on the negligence of the health department in erroneously discharging a COVID-19 patient, leading to her death. The 48-year-old woman was asked to return home even after having tested positive for the viral infection.
Vijayalakshmi, a neighbour of the deceased, said: “She was taken to a government facility on June 25 and discharged within two hours. The facility said she was COVID-19 negative. She was asked to remain in home isolation. Her mother was taken to the hospital the next day and tested positive. She had been unwell after returning home and was taken to a private hospital where she was denied treatment.”
The woman was later admitted to a government hospital and breathed her last in the wee hours of July 2. “This is one such incident which came to our notice. There may be other such cases due to negligence,” she added.
Public Transport Suspended in State
The government of Tamil Nadu announced the extension of a more-relaxed lockdown till July 31, with a total shut down on all Sundays. The state government also suspended public transport till July 15 as a measure to contain the virus from spreading. The suspension of public transport has come as a jolt to the workers, who solely depend on it to reach their places of work.
The expert committee which held a discussion with the Chief Minister did not recommend for the extension the lockdown. Total lockdown in Chennai, Madurai and parts of Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur, and Chengalpattu (under the jurisdiction of the Greater Chennai Police) was extended till July 5.
The state government also announced the opening of places of worship in rural areas with standard operating procedures.
Avoiding Tests Due to Stigma
There is another issue brewing. Doctors and patients who are suffering from an infection in their lungs are refusing to take the COVID-19 test due to fears of social stigma, contact tracing and isolation.
Incidents of patients going missing from hospitals have added to the woes of the health department. Two weeks ago, a COVID-19 patient’s dead body was found in the Coovum river after he reportedly went missing from a hospital.
Meanwhile, doctors in Chennai hospitals are facing the trauma of witnessing an increasing number of deaths on a daily basis.