Sudden spike of COVID-19 cases in Kerala: How TN is prepared to tackle the spread?

As the sequel of a sharp surge of COVID-19 cases in Kerala, the Tamil Nadu government has initiated precautionary measures to tackle the wave of the pandemic before it makes a strong landfall into the state. The Tamil Nadu government has on Monday issued an order to the districts that are bordering Kerala to enhance the measures and surveillance and to extensively monitor the inflow from Kerala to the state. 

The Tamil Nadu government has made the RT-PCR test mandatory for all air travelers who are arriving in the state from Kerala. The order has come after Kerala has been reporting a steady increase in COVID-19 cases, with some parts of the state have reported a high caseload. Along with the surveillance measures, the Tamil Nadu government has installed the mechanisms to conduct thermal screening at border districts before entering into Tamil Nadu. 

The government has also been conducting cluster testing in Chennai, Coimbatore, and Chengalpattu districts. According to reports, the Tamil Nadu government is staying vigil towards tackling the new rise of cases, and one of the main factors that both the states are staying vigil is in the wake of assembly polls where the heated campaigns have been drawing massive crowds, which eventually end up with putting the COVID-19 protocols on air. 

Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Radhakrishnan said that the state health department continues to aggressively test for the virus and is involved in tracing the contacts and the government is committed to bringing down the cases. Speaking to the media, the health secretary had expressed concern over non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols by people, including those who gather for political rallies. 

He appealed to the people to ensure that they adhere to the COVID-19 protocols to mitigate the spread. The reports say that apart from Kerala, the states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Chattisgarh have recorded a surge in daily new cases of COVID-19. The Union Health Ministry had said that both Kerala and Maharashtra cumulatively accounted for over 74 percent of India's total active cases. 

Radhakrishnan said, "Wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing should strictly be followed. It was noticed during certain political meetings that the cadres did not wear facemasks or follow social distancing". By citing an incident reported in Amravati district in Maharashtra where a family has been infected by the pandemic, Radhakrishnan said that defying the protocols would lead to distressing consequences. 

The health secretary further stated, "Tamil Nadu has a low positivity rate of 0.9 percent per 100 people and a majority of those who get admitted early with coronavirus symptoms are treated and discharged. I appeal to the people not to delay if they have symptoms of the COVID-19 viral infection and they should undergo test and get treated accordingly". 

Displaying how the state is getting prepared to tackle the spread, Radhakrishnan said apart from surveillance camps, the thermal screening will be carried out in the border districts and cluster testing will be done in Chennai, Coimbatore, and Chengalpattu districts. All the passengers arriving by flight should have RT-PCR negative certificates. 

In the wake of new COVID-19 variants, passengers from the UK, Brazil, and South Africa will be subjected to an RT-PCR test upon arrival. He added that around 36 direct returnees from the UK and their 26 contacts had tested positive for the pandemic recently and they were treated and discharged. Of them, eleven returnees had reported the new strain of the pandemic and they also were treated and discharged. According to the state health department, Tamil Nadu has reported 8,48,724 COVID-19 cases so far as of Monday of which 4,091 are active, 8,32,167 have been discharged, and 12, 466 had succumbed to the viral infection.