Containment zones back in Chennai as Covid cases rise

Containment zones back in Chennai as Covid-19 cases increase

Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian has said there was no need to panic

A man walks past a Covid-19 Coronavirus awareness mural in Chennai. Credit: AFP Photo

Covid-19 cases in Chennai are witnessing an upward trend with nearly 300 persons testing positive for the virus on Wednesday, even as containment zones were back for the first time since the second wave of infections earlier this year. 

While the daily cases increased gradually in the past few days – from 132 on December 21 to 194 on December 28 – there was a sudden spurt on December 29 with the city reporting 294 fresh cases. With the increase in cases, the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) on Wednesday enhanced the number of screening centres from 11 to 15 and the RT-PCR tests from 22,000 to 25,000. 

Health Minister Ma. Subramanian and Principal Secretary (Health) J Radhakrishnan expressed concern at the increase in cases but said there was no need to panic as the government was “well-equipped” to handle the situation. They asked people to follow Covid appropriate behaviour like wearing face masks and washing hands using soap at regular intervals. 

The GCC also reintroduced containment zones in Chennai with Subramanian and Radhakrishnan inspecting one of them personally. Out of the 39,537 streets, 507 of them reported Covid-19 cases as of Wednesday morning. Officials said 18 streets had 5 cases each and 42 streets had 4 cases each. 

Tamil Nadu has so far reported 45 Omicron cases, with Covid-19 samples of nearly 100 more people showing S-gene dropout. Subramanian said all Omicron patients are asymptomatic and they are doing fine. 

Radhakrishnan said the city has begun earmarking containment zones for the first time after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted earlier this year after the second wave. “A cluster of 10 people infected with Coronavirus was detected two to three days ago and the area has been cordoned off,” Radhakrishnan added. 

Though cases are on the rise, the only solace is 86 per cent of the city’s population has been administered with one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while the second dose coverage is 58 per cent. Officials said efforts are on to identify the unvaccinated, especially above 60 years of age, and ensure that they get their jabs.

Public health expert Dr Prabhdeep Kaur asked people to get tested if they have any symptoms of Covid-19. “After several months, there is an upward trend with a gradual rise in #COVID19 cases for 4 weeks in Chennai. Mask up, protect elderly, avoid meeting people in closed places, avoid crowds and get tested if you have any symptoms,” Dr Kaur of the National Institute of Epidemiology tweeted.

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