2 patients behind 129 cases: How Salem and the Nilgiris in TN became COVID-19 clusters?

While Tamil Nadu's active and biggest hotspot Chennai has been reporting a decline in the COVID-19 cases, some of the districts across the state have been witnessing soaring cases as the emerging clusters across the state possessed a huge challenge to the government in curbing the spread of the pandemic.

As cases have been peaking in the southern districts, Salem and the Nilgiris have also recorded the sharpest spike in the COVID-19 cases caused by two individuals. These two individuals carried positive symptoms and infected 26 people in Salem and 103 people in the Nilgiris. 

According to the reports, a 30-year-old man, a native of Salem, had arrived in the district from Maharashtra two weeks ago through road and he hasn't informed the local authorities on his arrival. When the authorities conducted a door-to-door survey in Dadagapatty, Salem, they found symptomatic people, and soon after 26 people living in that particular street spelled positive for the virus.

Upon tracing the source of infection, one of the virus-hit patients divulged the authorities that the 30-year-old came from Mumbai two weeks ago and he was meeting other people in the street. Since Mumbai has been a national hotspot, the local authorities shocked to know the development as the returned man has neither informed the authorities nor undergone COVID-19 testing. 

After inquiring, the man has also infected his wife and two children. The local police department has booked the case against the man for being negligent and not informing the local authorities. With accord to the complaint moved by the sanitary inspector, the man was booked under section 269 - negligent act likely to spread infection of the disease, for reportedly hiding his travel history.

All the people who tested positive in the street are under treatment. The Nilgiris district, which is among the less affected districts in the state, has reported a similar incident like Salem. According to the reports, a 47-year-old employee attached to the private limited firm in the hilly district had developed a fever and symptoms of the virus. However, he reportedly went to his office and met with the staff of the company. Although having symptoms, he also used public transport between Coimbatore and the Nilgiris.

He was tested positive for COVID-19 on June 16 and he had infected more than a hundred people including a hexagenerian of his company and people close to his circle. Upon the revelation, the district health authorities have decided to file a complaint against him and his company which failed to follow the government's guidelines in containing the spread. Despite the strict regulations, his company hasn't done any screening for the employees.

While the state has been going through the sixth phase of the lockdown, these incidents had created a furor and a challenge to the government in curbing the spread as well as monitoring the influx of people from other regions. According to the state government, Salem district has the highest number of the containment zones in Tamil Nadu. 

As of Tuesday, it has accounted for 184 zones and reported 1340 cases while the Nilgiris had reported 150 cases. As of Tuesday, Tamil Nadu has reported 1,18,594 cases so far of which 45,839 are active, 71,116 have been recovered, and 1,636 had succumbed to the virus.