Shocking revelation: 9,500 active COVID-19 cases had gone missing in TN: What's behind the discrepancy?

When the recent bulletin concerning the COVID-19 outbreak in Tamil Nadu had shown that the state has been witnessing a drop in the active cases, it initially had surfaced the sign of relief as the single-day tally of discharge had surpassed the fresh cases. However, it came to the revelation that at least 9,500 cases that should have been on the list of the active cases have been moved to the list of recoveries in the COVID-19 registry. 

Leaving the experts to worry, these 9,500 cases have been declared cured and mapped under the list of recoveries against the guidelines of the government. According to reports, Tamil Nadu has reported 58,011 new cases since September 1, but the health bulletin that was released on Thursday - September 10 had shown that the state has 48,482 active cases and this has become the factor of a discrepancy, which raised questions on the real state of the outbreak from how it was viewed from the perspective of the state government. 

According to the health department's revised comprehensive guidelines for COVID-19 released on August 31, the fresh cases must stay on the active list for at least ten days and if the state had gone by the guidelines, it should have had at least 57,000 active cases on Thursday even there were no discrepancies reported on the active cases and deaths that the state had recorded from September 1 to 10. 

However, as per the bulletin, Tamil Nadu has 48,482 active cases as of Thursday in the first ten days of reporting 58,011 fresh cases and the reports stated that the rest 9,500 cases, which should be on the active cases, were moved to the recovery list. However, amid the discrepancy, the authorities had attributed the development to the early discharges. 

According to the director of public health, asymptomatic patients with mild infection would be discharged early after an exit test, in some cases. By citing that many asymptomatic patients are requesting for home quarantine from the COVID-19 care centers, the director stated that the government had told the district officials to discharge the people who test negative, in a repeat RT-PCR for a week, before ten days. 

Such patients who got early discharges within ten days of testing positive for the pandemic are mandated to be under home isolation for a week after discharge and they have been removed from the active list after they had tested negative. However, experts had alarmed the discrepancy and highlighted that the early exit test-based discharges are dangerous as it would artificially push up the recovery rates and would conceal the deaths and the early discharges would lead to more infections and there are possibilities that such patients may develop serious complications. 

The experts said that the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control had recommended at least 10 days of isolation for the active cases. According to a news agency that put out the discrepancy, the director of Public Health said that the control room was dealing with 400 hospitals and 80,000 test results from more than 150 labs in connection to the early discharges of 9,500 cases. 

According to the state health department, Tamil Nadu has reported 4,86,052 cases so far of which 48,482 are active, 4,29,416 have been discharged, and 8,154 had died of the viral infection as of Thursday - September 10. The state had said that 88% of the total caseload had recovered, 10% are active cases, and 1.7% had died due to the pandemic.

The discrepancies were captured at the high time when the state government has been reiterating that the state has been reporting more recoveries and the Chief Minister has been pressing that due to the efforts of the government, COVID-19 infections are decreasing in the state.