Tamil Nadu is witnessing an overall decline in COVID-19 cases which continued in the past week, but the state’s daily caseload is still the highest in the country. While the active cases have fallen to 2.68 lakh as of June 4, bringing a huge relief to the overwhelmed health system, infection rate is on a rise in 11 districts predominantly in the west and delta region.
There are scores of villages recording a high number of COVID-19 cases. The lack of adequate health infrastructure in these pockets has led to the disease spreading fast and patients flocking to the urban centres for treatment.
Meanwhile, mucormycosis infection is on a steep rise; so far, 673 cases have been detected in the state. Chief Minister MK Stalin on June 5 urged the Union government to immediately allocate at least 30,000 vials of liposomal amphotericin B to Tamil Nadu.
After a two-week long intense lockdown in the state to bring the COVID-19 cases under control, the Tamil Nadu government announced relaxations on June 5 in the districts that have brought the pandemic under control.
The announcement was made following a district-wise analysis. Experts have said that such a localised approach would be effective in containing the virus with minimal loss of livelihood.
STATE PRESSED UNDER VACCINE SHORTAGE
On June 1, the state health secretary had said that Tamil Nadu had vaccine only for two days and that from June 2 to June 5 there would be a temporary halt in the vaccination. Soon after, 4.2 lakh doses of Covishield was sent to the state for vaccinating those in the 45 and above age group.
Two days after the Centre told Tamil Nadu that it would find a partner to operationalise the HLL Bio-Tech’s Integrated Vaccine Complex at Chengalpet, top officials from Bharat Biotech met MK Stalin at the secretariat on June 3. A day after meeting the CM, a top team from Bharat Biotech visited the integrated vaccine complex (IVC) in Chengalpet. However, no announcement has been made in this regard so far.
The Union has not yet responded to the plea made by Stalin last week requesting the IVC to either lease or hand over the facility to the Tamil Nadu government.
Meanwhile, the state government continues to expand health infrastructure to fight COVID-19. MK Stalin on June 4 opened COVID-19 Care Centres in Theni and Virudhunagar districts.
However, various forms of violations persist in the state. Shocking visuals of corpses of COVID-19 victims left lying on the floor at a government hospital in Theni district have gone viral on social media in the last week.
PARTIAL SUCCESS FOR HYUNDAI WORKERS
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging out of control, automobile factories around Chennai were forced to suspend their operations late last month, in the face of strikes and protests among workers over unsafe working conditions. Many plants were shut for a few days, but again resumed production.
Hyundai has been notorious in ensuring its plant in Sriperumbudur functions in maximum capacity. It is accused of flouting pandemic protocols and engaging 70% of workers. However, it has now announced that they are suspending the third shift in the plant. After much resistance from workers, the company has also commenced a vaccination drive against COVID-19 for employees and their dependents, and assured extending insurance cover to dependents. Read more
CHILD MARRIAGES ON A RISE
Child Rights and You (CRY), in a report released on May 26, has warned about possibilities of higher child marriages due to the ongoing pandemic, after a survey found a 40% increase in May 2020 compared to May 2019 in four districts of the state.
Statistics available with the Cuddalore district administration revealed that 34 child marriages were stopped in the district from January to May this year. The marriages were stopped either through calls made to the Childline helpline 1098, or through specific information from other sources. Read more
‘POSTPONE CLASS 12 EXAMS’
Students Federation of India, Tamil Nadu Science Forum and other organisations have appealed to the state government to not go ahead with the scheduled class 12 public examinations for State Board students. “Cancellation of the examination is in the best interest of the students in rural districts, students residing in hostels and students who were not able to attend school due to the pandemic,” read a statement released by SFI.
Following meetings with legislature party representatives and health experts, Tamil Nadu School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi on June 5 said that the final decision will be taken by the CM.
Meanwhile, Stalin on June 5 announced the constitution of a high-level committee to study the impact of NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) on medical college admissions in Tamil Nadu to see whether NEET has affected students at the fringes of society.
UNABLE TO SUSTAIN, WITCO SHUTS SHOP
Chennai-based luggage retailer Witco wound up its business after running for nearly 65 years, making it one of the oldest retail brands from the city.
Witco’s downward spiral began with demonetisation, announced by the government in November 2016, which worsened further, after GST impacted its sales. The pandemic and lockdown proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the retail chain.
ALL SC SUB-SECTS GIVEN ONE NAME
The Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department of Tamil Nadu issued an order on June 3 bringing all the seven sub-sects of Scheduled Castes under one common name – Devendrakula Velalar.
The change in nomenclature was a long pending demand of certain sections of the SC community.
STALIN URGES MODI TO SPEED UP AIIMS
Stalin in a letter to PM Modi pointed out that the foundation stone for the AIIMS was laid by him on 27.1.2019 and till now only a compound wall has been erected around the land that has been allotted for the project by the state government. He urged that a dedicated team of officers be appointed immediately to finalise and commence the construction works.
Stalin’s statement comes after the Madurai bench of Madras High Court on June 4 suggested the temporary setting up of an outpatient ward and to commence MBBS admissions for AIIMS Madurai, till the construction of the building gets over.