As the third phase of lockdown nears its end, the COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu continue the unprecedented spike. The inflow from other states and countries are also adding to the state’s already increasing tally. The continuous increase in cases in Chennai city is raising alarms over the containment measures and testing protocols. The state government, which was claiming victory in containing the spread of the COVID-19 much earlier, seems to be paying the price now for the slips in execution.
The increasing number of cases point to widespread community transmission, but the government continues to deny the same. In doing so, the government itself is playing the spoilsport during the pandemic.
The state has tested more samples in comparison with other states, but the recent week has shown stagnation in number of tests in spite of increasing testing facilities.
CASES CROSS 19,000 IN STATE
The performance of the state shall be defined as a mixed bag of fortunes, as the discharge rate remains high, but the cases continue to exponentially increase. The ill-timed claims of the overoptimistic Chief Minister, on the state becoming COVID-19 free in three days on April 14 continues to haunt the government.
In the one week starting May 22, 5,405 cases have been added to the state’s SARS-CoV-2 tally. With this increase, the total positive cases in the state have reached 19, 372. The state had reported a total of 13, 967 cases on May 21. The cases per day were more than 800 on three days, with only one day reporting less than 700 cases.
Even as the mortality remains low, the number of deaths continues to increase as well. The seven day duration has accounted for 51 deaths, with 22 deaths reported from Chennai in the last 24 hours. The total deaths in the state stand at 145 till May 28.
The number of women infected by the disease is also high. A total of 7,148 women have been affected so far across the state, i.e. 36.89% of the affected are women.
CHENNAI RETAINS HOTSPOT TAG
The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) continues to hold on to the undesired hotspot tag, as the city continues to contribute massively to the total tally of the state. The week added 3,958 cases, taking the total positive cases from the city to 12,672. No other district in the state has more than 1,000 cases till now.
Every single day of the week reported more than 500 cases. With more relaxations in place in the city and stagnated testing, the city does not seem to have taken the rising toll easily.
The number of containment zones in GCC is also steadily increasing beyond 1,000, but the outcome of such measures is hardly visible. Five zones in the city have reported more than 1,000 cases and one zone has more than 2,000 cases. Royapuram, Kodambakkam, Teynambet and Thiru Vi Ka Nagar remain the places of high infection.
The tests are reported to be around 4,000 to 5,000 per day, which is much less, considering the quantum of positive cases in the city. Experts have opined that testing in the range of 18,000 to 20,000 per day in Chennai would be mandatory to prevent further spike in the next couple of weeks.
STEP UP TESTING
The state is credited and appreciated for conducting more tests in the country. But considering the massive spread of the infection, the numbers need to increase drastically and quickly. The last seven days have seen 82,684 sample tests across the state, at an average of 11,800 tests per day. Given the fact of increasing testing facilities, the numbers are highly stagnant.
The labs have increased to 70, with 42 government facilities and 28 private facilities getting the nod for testing. With such a large number of labs, the number of tests per day should be more than 20,000.
The refusal to test even the contacts of the positive patients is increasing every day. The health officials say only the people showing symptoms can be tested. Such an approach can only increase the prospect of the primary contact of the patients becoming carriers or even turn positive.
COUNSELLING DEMANDED FOR PATIENTS
The demand for providing counselling for the patients and family members has gathered pace as two persons have committed suicide due to stress. The government has paid little attention to the need for psychiatric counselling at different stages of treatment. The unusual environment in hospitals and quarantine facilities coupled with the fear of viral infection is affecting the mental health of the patients.
The social stigma and lack of moral support from the family members and trained psychologists are haunting the individuals affected. The lack of initiative may end in more loss of lives for which the action of the government is urgently demanded.