TN Health Secretary urges district heads to stay alert, advises them to return to pre-festival COVID-19 testing

Two COVID-19 clusters have been identified in Chennai and Thanjavur and action has been taken, he said in a letter

Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan has urged district collectors and the Commissioner of the Chennai Corporation to stay alert and return to the pre-Deepavali COVID-19 testing numbers.

Over the last two days, officials found fresh COVID-19 cases at a construction site in Thanjavur and a cluster among people who had returned from Bihar in Tondiarpet in Chennai. The district and Corporation team had identified and traced their contacts, the official said.

“Enforcement of mask wearing is extremely poor in public places. Collectors should ensure that meetings with traders associations are done to ensure self regulation in addition to keeping up with visible and demonstrable action of fines by police, health, revenue and local bodies,” Dr. Radhakrishnan has said in his letter to the heads of district administrations.

The next 14 to 28 days are important, and officials should ensure focussed testing, besides conducting fever camps and containment as was done before the festival holidays.

There had been a sustained dip in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 infection he pointed out, but the number of tests was low as fewer people visited fever camps. Dr. Radhakrishnan has advised the heads of districts and Corporations to continue sample collection and monitor SARI (severe acute respiratory infection) and ILI (influenza-like illness) cases besides organising fever camps.

He has instructed officials to beware of areas showing a spurt. These could be in construction sites, a family or a street or caused by an event or function, he has explained. When such clusters are noticed, the identified infrastructure should not be closed hastily, he has said.

Healthcare facilities should follow up on ensuring that there are enough beds and sufficient oxygen supply is available “so that we are prepared in case of any increase in cases in the next ten days to a fortnight,” the letter read. If two to three or more cases are traced to a function, family gathering, or shop, then too testing, isolation and treating should be done apart from containment at the place and source of occurrence, he has advised.

Dr. Radhakrishnan said “absolute non compliance to mask wearing and physical distancing” was being “observed in many parts of TN including tourist spots and religious places such as temples, mosques, dargahs and churches. Further, in local tourist destinations and waterfalls no mask and social distancing was observed during Deepavali holidays.” He cited the alarming trend in Europe and the USA as “a forewarning for all.”

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