The state of Tamil Nadu surpassed its all-time high daily COVID-19 count this week. The highest number of recorded cases at 6,993 on July 27, 2020 was passed with 7,819 cases reported on April 14. Since then, the daily case count has only spiked further, with 8,449 COVID-19 cases reported on April 16.
As fresh cases breached the 7,000 mark for the first time in the state, the capital city of Chennai also recorded its all-time high as 2,636 people tested positive for the virus in the city on Friday. The total number of samples tested in 24 hours across the state were 97,668.
With this the state's active caseload has exceeded 60,000 for the first time since the begnning of the pandemic. As many as 61,593 people, including 22,423 in Chennai, are presently under treatment across the state.
Though the COVID-19 active caseload has crossed 50,000 cases in Tamil Nadu, the bed occupancy across the State is less than 10%; it is 20% in Chennai, said Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan.
Over two lakh people were vaccinated across the state for the second day in a row. The previous highest was 1.52 lakh, achieved on March 22. As on April 17 43.90 lakh persons have been vaccinated.
However, COVID-19 vaccine shortages have been reported from a number of districts across Tamil Nadu. While a few districts have already run out of Covaxin, the available stock of Covishield is said to last only a few days in a number of districts.
As of April 15, the State had 7.41 lakh doses of Covishield and 1.75 lakh doses of Covaxin.
MORE RESTRICTIONS IN THE COMING DAYS?
Following the conclusion of assembly elections the state came out with a slew of restrictions to prevent people from gathering in large numbers in public places, and the state health department also clarified that there will not be a lockdown.
But, with the heavy surge in cases, further restrictions to control the spread of the virus – including a night curfew – are anticipated after Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami’s expected return to Chennai from Salem on April 18.
Noting that the rapid surge in COVID-19 cases could result in a huge burden on healthcare workers, the Federation of Government Doctors Association (FOGDA) suggested an intense lockdown for 14 days beginning April 18 to slow down transmission and to provide some breathing space for preparedness.
On April 12, folk artists held demonstrations and submitted representations across the state demanding the government to allow for performances during festivals and that their assistance amount be announced. Members of the Tamil Nadu Folk Artists Welfare Board are eligible for special assistance worth Rs 2,000, which they say is not sufficient.
Retail outlets in Koyambedu wholesale vegetable and the fruit market in Chennai, and in wholesale vegetable and fruit markets in other parts of the state, were restricted from functioning on April 10. Workers have staged protests and demanded relief, as they had been badly hit by the first wave of the virus last year.
As many as 12 byroads on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border were closed on April 16 by the Tamil Nadu police in the wake of the COVID-19 surge. Travellers entering Tamil Nadu will be allowed to cross the border only after producing a COVID-19 negative certificate.
ARREAR EXAMiNATIONS COMPULSORY, NO PASSAGE FOR ALL
The Tamil Nadu government made a u-turn on its decision to cancel arrear exams in the state in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and announcing that all students had passed. The state informed the Madras High Court on April 15 that no student would be declared to have passed without attending an online exam.
The decision comes days after the court called out the state's call as an “uninformed political decision.” Advocate-general Vijay Narayan told the bench: “We have decided to abide by the guidelines of the UGC. It will be mandatory for all students who have arrears to attend online exams.”
TWIN DALIT MURDERS
An independent fact-finding team led by retired IAS officer P. Sivakami examined the recent murder of two Dalit youths near Arakkonam. The team ruled out any “political rivalry” behind the crime but concluded that it was a result of a simmering “caste enmity” between members of the Scheduled Caste community and Vanniyars.
“Out of the eight accused in the double murder case, only one person was the son of a AIADMK union chairman and the remaining seven were not linked to any political party. Similarly, the deceased youth also does not belong to any political party as claimed by politicians,” said Sivakami on April 14.
On April 16, I. Pandian, Executive Director of the NGO Witness for Justice elaborated on findings by another fact-finding team. He said that two major attackers from the Vanniyar community were sons of leaders from Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). He also said that during the clash youth from the Vanniyar community remarked that the Dalit youth must have voted for the 'pot' symbol belonging to the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK).
EVMS MISHANDLED, RE-POLL IN BOOTH
Two corporation staff carrying Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) on a two-wheeler were caught after polling on April 6 from Chennai’s Velachery neighbourhood. The Election Commission identified the EVMs as those from booth number 92 of Velachery constituency in Chennai. Repolling will be conducted in the booth – which has less that 1,000 voters – on April 17.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) cadres earlier claimed that the staff were trying to tamper with the EVMs.
The Congress and AIADMK are facing off in the constituency, with the Makkal Needhi Maiam also in the fray.
Elections to the 234-seat Tamil Nadu Assembly were held on April 6, votes are to be counted on May 2 alongside three other states and the Union Territory of Puducherry.