The daily number of new COVID-19 cases has not wavered much in Tamil Nadu, even as the number of total infections crossed the four-lakh mark in the state on August 27. The number of new cases were between 5,600 or 6,000 between July 30 and August 27, with the exception of two days. Meanwhile, the state is moving towards the end of another lockdown, on August 31.
With the Centre insisting on withdrawing curbs on interstate transport, the state government is expected to announce its decision within a couple of days. In view of the supposed relaxations, the state government is exploring the possibility of amending the Public Health Act to punish violators of COVID-19 norms.
Stagnation in Fresh Cases
The state continues to occupy the second spot in the total number of COVID-19 cases, next only to Maharashtra. The astonishing stagnation in the number of fresh cases – recorded daily – continued for a third consecutive week. The last 21 days have seen between 5,600 and 6,000 new COVID-19 cases each day. The week ending August 27 accounted for a total of 41,774 fresh cases; it was preceded by 41,080 cases and 41,211 cases in the previous two weeks.
The single biggest spike was reported on August 21, with 5,995 cases, while the number of casualties saw a reduction during the week. The period also accounted for 709 deaths as compared to 842 in the previous week. The total number of casualties in the state has reached 6,948.
Former director of the Public Health Department, Dr K.Kolandaswamy said: “The worry is the proportion of vulnerable people being infected. If those that are vulnerable are being infected, it will lead to more deaths, which is happening now.”
Three more members of the legislative assembly tested positive this week, two from the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and one from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The condition of Kanyakumari MP, H. Vasantha Kumar, remains critical. A 58-year-old manager at the headquarters of the Director General of Police also succumbed to the viral infection this week.
Chennai Reports Minor Rise in Cases
The number of cases in the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) limits increased this week, with 8,989 fresh cases. The previous two weeks accounted for 8,290 and 6,903 cases respectively. The last 14 consecutive days have recorded more than 1,000 cases after a drop between August 7 and August 13. A maximum of 1,298 fresh cases was reported on August 23. The total deaths in the corporation reached 2,666 with a 2.04% fatality rate.
The number of people returning to Chennai has increased as e-pass applications are being approved. The GCC has also increased its vigil on entry points and has enforced compulsory quarantine for the returnees. Even though the number of cases have increased and reverse migration is underway, experts say that another peak in the city seems unlikely at the moment.
The consistency in numbers was also reflected in data from other parts of the state, with Madurai being an exception with a very low number of new cases. The district which went past 10,000 cases in a short span has managed to restrict the spread of infection. Ten more districts other than the GCC region have reported more than 10,000 cases as on August 27.
Authorities of the Pallavaram municipal corporation faced ire for sealing an apartment gate and then a house, after a resident tested positive for COVID-19. Workers were seen sealing the door of the house with tin sheets. After public outrage, the sheet was removed.
Relaxations to be Announced?
The state government had extended the lockdown till August 31, and suspended public transport. An e-pass is necessary for travelling to other districts. With the Union Government pushing for more relaxations, including free travel to other states, the state is considering it.
The complete abolition of the e-pass system and restarting public transport tops a long list of public demands. The government is expected to hold discussions with health experts and district administrations on August 29 before taking a call on relaxations.