With COVID-19 positive cases surging in Tamil Nadu (2,39,978 infections so far), the state government has extended the lockdown, within the unlock phase till August 31. A complete lockdown will be in place on all Sundays of the month. The ban on public transport and compulsory e-pass for travel within the state will remain an obstacle for daily wage workers and small and medium enterprises.
The number of cases has come down under the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), much to the relief of the government. But, the increasing cases in other districts of the state expose the failure of containment measures, even though the state remains on top in terms of number of tests in the country.
Meanwhile, the government has decided to distribute reusable masks to the card holders of the Public Distribution System (PDS) residing in the urban local bodies at a cost of Rs 30.1 crore.
47,014 CASES REPORTED IN 7 DAYS
The infections in the state continue to increase even as the government claims victory in containment measures, while the numbers prove otherwise. The week ended July 30 reported 47, 014 cases, the highest so far in a seven-day period, taking the total tally of the state to 2,39,978. The previous week ended on July 23 registered 36,595 cases.
The number of positive cases remained above 6,400 in the week, with a minor reduction on July 30 which reported 5,864 cases. The highest single day spike of 6,993 was reported on July 27. The discharges increased almost in proportion with the positive cases, as 1,78,178 individuals have been discharged, leaving the active cases at 57,962.
The number of casualties continues to be cause of concern, with total deaths reaching 3,838 with 606 deaths this week. Ninety-seven deaths, the highest on a day, was recorded on July 30 including two girls aged 3 and 5, succumbing to the infection.
GROWTH RATE DECLINES IN CHENNAI
The growth rate of COVID-19 cases in GCC has reduced considerably, which is reflecting on the daily numbers reported from the city. The number of positive cases per day has stayed below 1,400 for 21 consecutive days. The week ended July 30 recorded 8,320 cases, down from 8,651 during the previous week. The total positive cases recorded so far is 98,767.
The experts in public health have warned against complacency due to this small achievement and have requested for more vigil. Only two of the fifteen zones have more than 20% of active cases, bringing down the active cases in the corporation to 13%. The city also has 2,092 casualties at 2.12% mortality rate.
The governor of Tamil Nadu, Banwarilal Purohit has been advised to remain in isolation for one week, as three more staff of Raj Bhavan has tested positive. The district collector of Chennai Seetha Lakshmi also tested positive this week, making her the third collector to contract the infection.
On the other hand, the Class C and D category employees in the government offices have complained of being singled out. They have alleged that senior level officers take leave or attend duty on rotation basis, exposing the lower category employees to the infection.
SPIKE CONTINUES IN SOUTH
The districts, apart from Chennai, are continuing to pile up more cases. The districts of Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram adjacent to Chennai have recorded 14,197, 13,482 and 8,604 cases, respectively. A total of 10 districts have recorded more than 5,000 cases while only two districts, Perambalur and Karur have less than 500 cases as on July 30.
The districts other than Chennai recorded a massive 38,694 cases in the last seven days, an increase from 27,944 in the previous week. In the south, Madurai has reported 10,838 cases. The 10 southern districts have contributed 49,650 cases, roughly around 20%. Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Chengalpattu account for 56% of total cases, which is continuously on a decline.
The table below shows the increase in cases in districts other than Chennai:
The number of imported cases has remained low, indicating the possibility of community spread and lack of tracking and isolating the contacts. The model followed by Perambalur district, with vigorous tracking and testing have managed to limit the cases to 422 so far.
E-PASS COMPULSORY FOR TRAVEL BETWEEN DISTRICTS
The Union government has done away with the e-pass system for travel between states as part of the unlock phase relaxations. But, the state government has decided to continue with the e-pass system for travel between districts and into the state.
The small and medium enterprises have expressed their displeasure over the continuation of the system, as many of the employees are refused the pass for getting to work. The workers and entrepreneurs in different industrial estates in and around Chennai have demanded relaxation on getting the pass, to facilitate production as the lockdown has dealt a huge blow on production.
The trade unions in the state transport corporation have been demanding the restart of public transport to increase the transportation facility for the public. The unions also held a hunger strike on July 24 condemning the wage cuts, deduction in leaves and compulsory attendance during lockdown period.
Also read: COVID-19: Cases Continue to Spike, Even as Discharges Cross 1 Lakh in Tamil Nadu