Is Tamil Nadu in need of another complete lockdown? Hear from WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan!

With the growing menace of the global pandemic through the existing Novel Coronavirus and the birthing new variants, Tamil Nadu is under the clouds of the lockdown era as the state government has taken the red card for various relaxations and brought back Sunday lockdown and night curfews to join the battle of curbing the virus spread. As the sequel of soaring cases and the emergence of the third wave, the government has earlier this week imposed these restrictions amid ramping up the medical infrastructure and vaccination drive. 

As per the fresh round of restrictions, the state will go through the night curfews from 10 pm to 5 am every day while Sundays will be under total lockdown. Besides closing the beaches and reducing the occupancy in the theatres, the state government has also closed the places of worship on the weekends and resorted to virtual learning for the students. As these restrictions write a prefix for the possible complete lockdown, they had sparked an inevitable question - Is Tamil Nadu in need of another complete lockdown? 

The answer from the top global scientist is 'No'. Though the answer was a relief and hope, it also carries a concern that the virus will stay. Dr Soumya Swaminathan, a native of Chennai and the Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO), was in the city where she took part in an event in Thiruvanmiyur organized by MS Swaminathan Charitable Trust. While speaking at the event, she said that there is no need for another complete lockdown in Tamil Nadu to fight the third wave of the pandemic. 

She said that the people are highly aware of the Covid-19 guidelines and protocols, which minimises the need for the complete lockdown in Tamil Nadu. By citing that Covid has been mutating, she said, "The virus will ride along with us and at the same time, we must strictly adhere to the Covid appropriate behaviour and norms." She further said that the Omicron variant spread four times fast than the previous variants and though the impact is less, the infection rate has been surging.

She said the people can avoid deaths if they are vaccinated and added, "We can pass the virus if we are staying vigil and cautious." On Saturday, Swaminathan took to Twitter and advised the Indian people that the upcoming weeks will be crucial. She wrote, "The next few weeks will be critical as Omicron surges. Need to manage without panic as the majority of cases are likely to be mild. Test, isolate, avoid unnecessary medicines, mask up, work from home if possible, avoid crowds, get vaccinated if not already & follow Govt advice". 

According to the Tamil Nadu Health Department, the state has reported 10,978 fresh Covid cases on Saturday - January 8, 2,000 cases increase from what was reported on Friday. The state has also reported 1,525 discharges and ten deaths on Saturday. Overall, the state has recorded 27,87,391 cases so far as of Saturday of which 40,260 are active, 27,10,288 were discharged, and 36,843 had succumbed to the viral infection.