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TN This Week: Mounting COVID-19 Cases and Deaths, Medical Facilities Overwhelmed

Hospitals in and around Chennai have begun reporting a significant rise in the number of mucormycosis cases or black fungus infections as well.
COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu

Image credit: Prakash R

Chennai: Tamil Nadu reported the highest daily spike in Covid-19 cases in the country for four consecutive days this week. The state has recorded nearly 2.4 lakh fresh infections and 2,542 deaths over the past seven days.

The increased test positivity rate (TPR) and the underreported case fatality rate (CFR) reveal that the actual number of infections and deaths would be manifold. Read more

With the rising cases, the government medical facilities are overwhelmed across the state. The COVID-19-related curbs have been extended in Tamil Nadu till May 30, said a statement issued by the state government on May 22. The official order further noted that a one-week complete lockdown would be imposed from May 24.

The government and the scientific community are simultaneously struggling to contain propagation of unscientific methods and false propaganda. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Coimbatore, Vanathi Srinivasan, recently inaugurated public steam inhalation stations, drawing flak from the scientific community. Read more


Chennai recorded a marginal dip in the number of fresh infections, but with the number of recoveries dropping, the number of active cases in the city has increased. As a result, finding a bed continues to remain a difficult task, particularly if the bed sought is an oxygen-supported one.

Hospitals in and around Chennai have begun reporting a significant rise in the number of mucormycosis or black fungus cases as well. However, ophthalmic hospitals report that even prior to the state taking count of the fungal infection cases, there was a spike in the infection cases over the past few weeks.

In Coimbatore, the second worst-affected district, the weekly test positivity rate (TPR) has risen two-fold in three weeks; it is 29.9%, much higher than the state average of 20.3%.

The TPR in two districts — Chengalpattu and Theni — is above 30%

In the last couple of days, CM Stalin visited districts where Covid-19 cases are on rise -- Salem, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Trichy and Madurai -- to review preparations to deal with the crisis.


Given the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases and sample load, the state will adopt a syndromic approach to COVID-19. All persons with suspected symptoms are to be considered COVID-19 positive cases unless proved otherwise.

Under this approach, active case search will be taken up through house-to-house visits and screening will take place at Interim COVID-19 Care Centres (ICCC). One upgraded Primary Health Centre in each block will be converted into an ICCC. The 30-bed centre would have oxygen support and adequate drugs, and one vehicle kept ready for transport.

The Directorate of Public Health & Preventive Medicine (DPH&PM) said that the advantages of this approach include implementation on a large scale, patient-centred care, cost-effectiveness and simplified surveillance, along with being quick and scientific.


The Union government must urgently supply at least one crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Tamil Nadu, as its current allotment of 13.85 lakh doses is meagre and insufficient, DMK MP TR Baalu told Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in a meeting on May 20.

In a letter submitted during the meeting, Mr. Baalu said there were 3.65 crore people in the 18-44 age group in the State, but till date, only a “meagre and insufficient” 13.85 lakh doses of vaccines had been supplied to Tamil Nadu.

He also sought increased oxygen supply to the state.


On May 16, the state decided to provide the antiviral drug Remdesivir directly to private hospitals to avoid overcrowding at places designated for its prescription-based sale to the family of COVID-19 patients.

But reports reveal that this has paved the way for unauthorised distributors to sell them in the black market where pharma vendors are said to be charging up to Rs 14,000 per 100-mg vial.

The state Health Department on May 18 confirmed that the Tindivanam-based doctor who died five days before was from doses of spurious Remdesivir.

Meanwhile, CM Stalin has written to Union Minister Piyush Goyal, thanking the Centre for increasing the number of Remdesivir vials allotted for the state from 7,000 a day to 20,000.


A long-time critic of Isha Foundation’s Jaggi Vasudev, Finance Minister PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan recently hit out at the godman’s campaign demanding that the Tamil Nadu government release Hindu temples in the state from its control.

The minister’s attack had drawn opposition from Vasudev’s followers.

On May 19, the Tamil Nadu government announced digitisation of papers regarding properties and assets owned by temples across the state — estimated to number over 44,000 — and make them available in the public domain, in line with a poll promise made by Chief Minister M K Stalin.

Isha Foundation founder Jaggi Vasudev on May 20 commended the state government and its Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department for its decision.


Higher education minister K Ponmudi on May 20 raised concern that a first-year MA Political Science textbook of Tamil Nadu Open University terms the DMK and communist parties as the "parties that are against religion". He also pointed out that the book says these parties are appeasing minorities and do not condemn "if Muslims indulge in violence".

“You all know where it will lead to. I was also a political science student, and I have never seen such prejudice," the minister said.

The Tamil Nadu government is set to form a committee to review and update all textbooks for distance education programmes in the state.


In yet another jolt to actor Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), general secretary M Muruganandam resigned from the party on May 19. He said the undemocratic atmosphere in the party had forced him to resign.

One of the top party leaders, CK Kumaravel, also deserted MNM saying “No hero worship”. 

Haasan’s three-year-old MNM has seen several exits, including those of vice president R Mahendran, general secretary Santosh Babu and Padma Priya, after the party failed to win a single seat in the recently concluded Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.  Read more

Also read: IMA Asks Centre to Take Action Against Ramdev’s Unscientific Statements Against Allopathy

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