COVID-19 tally crosses 500-mark in Tamil Nadu

Chennai sees a sharp spike with 225 cases due to non-compliance with safety norms

Tamil Nadu recorded a marginal rise in fresh COVID-19 infections on Friday. After the daily count stayed below the 500-mark for a month, the State reported 543 new infections, with Chennai accounting for a little over 40% of the cases.

The number of COVID-19 cases dropped below 500 a day on February 4 in the State, while Chennai’s daily count has stayed below 200 since mid-January. However, the fresh infections increased to 225 in Chennai while Coimbatore and Chengalpattu reported 51 and 46 cases respectively. A total of 33 persons tested positive for the infection in Tiruvallur and 25 in Tiruppur.

While Kallakurichi had no new cases, 25 districts reported less than 10 cases each. Of this, 10 districts recorded one case each. The fresh cases included five returnees — two from the UAE and one each from Karnataka, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

While 562 persons were discharged, five more died — two in Chennai and one each in Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur. The State’s overall COVID-19 tally stood at 8,53,992 — 3,954 active cases, 8,37,525 discharged and 12,513 deaths. A total of 54,863 samples were tested in the last 24 hours.

Non-compliance with COVID-19 norms was cited as one of the reasons for the rise in fresh infections. Several family clusters were reported in the past week with all having a history of either attending a family gathering or travel.

Enforcing the rule on wearing masks was key, Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said.

In a communication to District Collectors and the Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner, he told them to strictly enforce the rule and penalise anyone violating it. Crowded places such as markets, railway stations, bus stands and main market streets as well as beaches should be monitored. Use of masks should be ensured for street vendors, at tea shops and restaurants, while a distance of two yards should be maintained in dining places.

“Aggressive testing is another important tool coupled with contact tracing,” he told them. Deputy Directors of Health Services in districts and City Health Officers in cities and local bodies should collect and submit details on the source of infection and source of disease spread on a daily basis so that it could be identified and containment zones drawn up.

Another area of concern, he said, was ensuring effective containment of streets or habitations where more than three cases were noted. “People seem to be moving in and out freely which is very dangerous as they will spread to others easily. The reason for family and hostel clusters is poor home or residential quarantine, and if not implemented strictly, could spread to workplaces and places they visited,” he said.

Mr. Radhakrishnan stressed on disinfection and demarcating containment areas, while noting that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of checking temperature in offices had come down.

“Cases have been rising in Chennai, Coimbatore, Chengalpattu and adjacent districts, and test positivity is also rising. Failure to act now will lead us to rapid increase of cases and the need to reactivate COVID-19 Care Centres,” he said. “March is a critical month for us to bring the numbers, which have started to increase, down, or we could go the Maharashtra, Punjab or Kerala way. Stagnation of numbers in remaining districts is worrisome sign even if below 10 a day as anyone can become a super spreader,” he said.

T.S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said that everyone needed to follow the SOP, particularly in public places. “Mask wearing and physical distancing is critical,” . It should be a community movement,” he said.

92,208 vaccinated

On Friday, 92,208 persons were vaccinated against COVID-19, taking the overall coverage till date to 7,62,604. In five days, the number of senior citizens immunised in the State crossed one lakh. While 16,807 persons aged 45 to 59 with co-morbidities were inoculated, 10,971 healthcare workers took the jab. With this, the number of healthcare workers immunised crossed four lakh.

Senior CPI leader R. Nallakannu, 96, received his first dose at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital on Friday.

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