With Tamil Nadu continuing to record less than 6,000 COVID-19 cases for 15 consecutive days, the demand for focussed testing has increased. The number of tests per positive case remains low in the state. The number of COVID-19 cases in the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) region has also gone down, with the exception of Ambattur, a predominantly industry-dominated area.
In a virtual meeting with the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu urged the Union Government to fund half of the tests conducted, along with other demands. Meanwhile, the suggestion to scrap the e-pass, used for travelling to other districts, has been rejected by the state government.
Concern over Increasing Casualties
The week ending August 13 witnessed 826 deaths, as compared to 733 in the previous seven days. The last eleven consecutive days have seen more than 100 deaths in the state. The state has recorded 5,397 deaths due to COVID-19 so far. Even though the number of cases being reported on a daily basis were below 6,000 for the past 15 days, the increasing number of casualties remains a cause for concern.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in the state is 3,20,355 – the week accounted for 41,211 new cases while the previous week witnessed 39,166 cases. A total of 47,014 cases were recorded between July 24 and July 30.
The number of MLAs to contract the novel coronavirus increased to 27 after three more members tested positive in the past week.
The demand for more focussed testing has grown after the number of COVID-19 cases decreased this week. The state had a total of 53,499 active cases on August 13, with a recovery rate of 81.6%.
The state government has resisted from withdrawing the e-pass system for travelling to other districts. The State Human Rights Commission has demanded a report from the government on challenges being faced by the people due to the scheme.
Concern over Increasing Cases in Ambattur
A reduction in the total cases in the state is also attributed to a reduction in cases in Chennai. The city recorded less than 1,000 cases in the last seven consecutive days. Ambattur zone accounted for 22% of the active cases while such cases in the GCC limits has come down to ten percent. The city is also closing down COVID-19 care centres as a result of the drop in cases.
Epidemiologists have opined that herd immunity would kick in by August, leading to a reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases. The same might have helped zones like Royapuram and Tondiarpet, leading to a drastic reduction in active cases. Both zones have the lowest percentage of active cases of all the zones in the GCC as of August 13.
The city recorded 6,903 cases over the past week, taking the total number of cases to 1,13,058. The number of deaths within the GCC is at 2,384.
Cases Rise in other Districts
After a sharp reduction in new cases in the week ending August 6 (31,835 cases in seven days), a total of 34,308 cases was recorded in the week ending August 13. The week ending July 23 had accounted for the highest one week spike of 38,694 cases.
The inconsistency in the numbers raised doubts over containment measures followed by the revenue and health departments. The change in pattern of an increase in the number of deaths in other districts, also raiseed alarms. The highest number of new cases was recorded on August 9 – with 5,005 cases – while the rest of the six days recorded more than 4,800 cases.
Aside from the GCC region, five districts have accounted for more than 10,000 cases. Chengalpattu tops the list with 19,640 cases – followed by Tiruvallur (18,477), Kancheepuram (13,085), Madurai (12575) and Virudhunagar (10,849).
CM Demands Relief from Centre
TN Chief Minister (CM) Edappadi K. Palaniswami submitted a long list of relief requirements with the Prime Minister in a virtual meeting conducted this week. Claiming credit for the high recovery rate in the state, the CM requested the Centre to share the expenditure of testing in the state from the PM-CARES fund.
The CM also requested for GST compensation between April and June to be released. The demand for sanctioning Rs 3,000 crores for Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package and Rs 9,000 crores for combating COVID-19 and its after-effects in the economy, was also raised. The CM cited a decrease in tax revenue and insisted on the immediate sanction of funds to the state.
Puducherry on Alerty
The Union Territory (UT) of Puducherry stepped up COVID-19 containment work after a prolonged delay. The World Health Organisation insisted on aggressive testing in the UT for containing the spread of the novel coronavirus. The state has announced a total lockdown on all Tuesdays in August.
Two ministers of the cabinet tested positive this week, prompting action from the government. Puducherry has recorded 6,995 cases so far with 96 casualties. Its administration has urged the union government to sanction Rs 975 crores for COVID-19 containment work. The Centre has sanctioned only Rs 3 crores so far, the CM alleged.