On 7 April, with 3,986 cases, Tamil Nadu recorded the highest spike in daily new cases in 2021. These numbers have have increased six times in a month, as the state recorded only 567 new cases on the same day in March.
2021 began on a good note for the state. Positivity rate was declining and several COVID centres in many hospitals were shut down.
But as polling closes in the state, Tamil Nadu is facing an uphill task in containing the surge. A lockdown has been ruled out, but be prepared for restrictions in containment zones, say health officials.
These charts by The Quint lay bare the 2nd wave in the state.
COVID Cases Doubling Every Month in 2021
Tamil Nadu has been reporting over 1,000 cases everyday since 19 March, over 2,000 cases everyday since 27 March and over 3,000 cases everyday since 2 April.
Rise in COVID-19 Cases in Tamil Nadu:
A month ago, the number of active cases stood at 3,952 and on 7 April, the number is at 27,743. Health experts believe massive election campaigns and flouting of COVID norms has resulted in this surge.
As on 4 April, Chennai’s test positivity rate was 8.01%, Ranipet 7.39%, Theni 6.85%, Coimbatore 6.17%, Chengalpattu 5.53%, Tiruvannamalai 5.38% and Salem 5.07%.
In all the other districts, the positivity rate is below 5%. The centre has directed all the states to ensure positivity rate doesn’t exceed 5% and extra attention needs to be given to districts with positivity rate above 2%.
Data Showing the Rise in Active Cases in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu government has been testing over 80,000 samples everyday. There are 260 COVID-19 testing facilities in the state, of which 69 are government facilities and 191 are private centres.
Chennai, The Worst Affected
Meanwhile, Chennai is the worst affected district in the state with 390 new cases on 7 April and 10,685 active cases. So far, 257,851 cases have been identified overall in Chennai and the city alone accounts for 4,286 of the 12,821 total deaths in the state.
The Union health ministry had also red-flagged Tamil Nadu as one among the 12 states and union territories that is witnessing a surge in infections.
Data Showing COVID-19 Persons Discharged From December 2020- January 2021
Data Showing Deaths Reported Due to COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu
Mild Symptoms, Not Many Severe Cases
Tamil Nadu High Court on Wednesday warned that the COVID-19 situation appears to be very serious and so people need to be more vigilant.
When The Quint visited the Omandurar Government Medical College Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Government Medical Hospital in Chennai, we saw long queues of people who had tested positive for COVID-19.
The Health Secretary Dr Radhakrishnan told The Quint that he had been carrying out surprise checks at bus stands, markets and shopping areas. “An auto driver told me that it was the government’s fault that the virus has spread so much. That had we imposed fines on those who don’t wear masks, then more people would have follow the rules. But how many people can we penalise? People are already struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
“A mask is like a shirt or pants. You won’t step out of the house without basic clothing right? If we do 100% mask-wearing and proactively get vaccinated, then we can defeat this virus very easily,” he added.
Senior doctors in the government hospital told The Quint,
“What serves as relief is that most of the cases have mild symptoms and many are in the 18-28 age group. Since they don’t have diabetes, hypertension and other complications, the recovery rate has been great. However, we need to contain the spread.”
Taking into account the five hospitals in Chennai — Government Corona Hospital, Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate, Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital, Government Stanley Medical College Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital — 1,869 persons were admitted, while the total bed capacity was 4,368, as on 5 April.
Door-to-Door Fever Surveillance Begins
A day after polling, from 7 April, door-to-door fever surveillance in containment areas and screening centres for triaging of COVID-19 patients has begun. Restrictions are expected to be gradually enforced for non-essential activities.
“Some steps should be taken without affecting the public, and with public cooperation we can avoid an out-of-control situation like Maharashtra. Of the 4.5 lakh areas, there are 925 containment areas that had more than three COVID-19 cases. Restrictions will be tightened in these areas. We will have focused volunteers and take up testing,” the health secretary told.
Slow Pace of Vaccination
The state has received nearly 54 lakh doses of the COVID vaccines so far, but the up-take has been low.
While there was a restriction to promote vaccination during the election campaigning period due to the model code of conduct, the health department is going to take up several initiatives to raise awareness.
On an average, RGGGH and Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate, vaccinate up to 500 persons a day but in many cities, districts and rural parts, only 25 to 40 persons are vaccinated.
As on 5 April, 4.25 lakh doses of Covaxin and 28.30 lakh doses of Covishield were utilised, he said. The State has till now received 7.8 lakh doses of Covaxin and 47.43 lakh doses of Covishield.