The total number of people that have tested positive for COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu was 1,323 at 6 p.m. on April 17, with 283 people discharged after making a recovery. With a total of 11 doctors and five nurses testing positive for the novel coronavirus, safety measures for health professionals in the state have come under questioning. However, a slight increase in recovery rates and a slump in the number of positive cases have come as relief over the past week.
The fishing community in the state is in crisis as a 61-day ban began on April 14. Sanitation workers continue to face humiliation from the certain individuals, despite continuing with their service during the lockdown. NewsClick brings you a round-up of happenings across the state this week.
MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS CONTRACT INFECTION
As the number of those that had tested positive for COVID-19 hit 1,323 on April 17, the number of infected doctors in Tamil Nadu also rose to 11, with five nurses testing positive as well. Doctors’ fora had been repeatedly accusing the government of providing a lesser number of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other preventive measures. However, government authorities insisted on the availability of PPEs, N95 masks, and three-layered masks. The Chief Secretary even went on to accuse post-graduate doctors of carelessness for contracting the virus.
The state has witnessed a slight increase in testing as compared to the past weeks, with the maximum number of tests for a day (4001) happened on April 16. On Tuesday, the Chief minister optimistically stated that the state would not have any positive cases after three days. However, the number of cases for the next three days stood at 31,38 and 56.
Read More: COVID-19: More Health Workers Contract Infection in Tamil Nadu, Number of Tests Remains Low
SANITARY WORKERS FACE HUMILIATION
For sanitation workers, the toil continues amid the lockdown with minimum safety measures and paltry wages. A lorry driver carrying a septic tank was verbally abused and humiliated by a 77-year-old in Pallikaranai near Chennai, and the worker got the entire incident on camera. The incident, which took place on April 10, came to light after the video surfaced on social media. In the video, the senior citizen is heard saying that sanitary workers live at the mercy of others and are dependent on them. The person, a resident of IIT Colony, also threatened to physically assault the worker.
The Pallikaranai police filed a case based on a complaint filed by workers, but the person in question can only be arrested when the court reopens. Earlier this month, a female sanitation worker was physically assaulted by a group of people after an argument broke out while they were doing their job.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON THE RISE
The lockdown seems to have no impact on violence against women. Reports of women being threatened for coughing and sneezing at home were also published. Office bearers of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) received 257 distress calls from women from different parts of the state. Out of the total complaints, 69 were victims of violence from family members. The additional director general of police’s office said they were receiving an average of 25 calls regarding domestic violence, on a daily basis. Till April 16, the state police department has received a whopping 1,409 calls ever since the lockdown began.
Most of the calls received by the police are blank calls, as complainants are fearful of revealing their identity, fearing a reprisal since they remain in close proximity with the abuser. The AIDWA has demanded that the state government ensures the safety of women and children during the lockdown period.
FISHING COMMUNITY IN DEEP DISTRESS
The double setback of a lockdown and a fishing ban for 61 days, has been a jolt for the fishing community. The 13 seashore districts and 606 fishing villages are left to suffer amid the restrictions imposed owing to the lockdown. The number of days for a fishing ban on mechanised boats along the eastern coast was increased from 45 days to 61 days in 2018. This extended ban however, has added to the agony of the fishing community during the ongoing lockdown.
The government has been providing relief to the tune of Rs 5,000 for fishermen, during the 45 day ban, which is yet to be revised to the present 61-day period. The fishermen used to utilise this time for carrying out maintenance work on their fishing vessels. With the lockdown severely affecting their income over the past three weeks, they are already left with very little cash.
A lackadaisical approach in renewing their membership and in issuing identity cards to new members of welfare boards have excluded several thousand workers from receiving the additional cash relief of Rs 1,000. The workers and the fishermen union have been demanding for an increase in relief during the ban period to Rs 15,000.
Read More: Tamil Nadu Fishermen Face Double Whammy as Fishing Ban Follows Lockdown