Warning for Chennai; Is Lockdown coming back in TN after the assembly polls?

As the sequel of the exponential rise of COVID-19 cases, Chennai is surfaced with a warning that the lockdown and strict restrictions could come back to the city after the assembly polls as the city has been becoming the epicenter of the second wave of the pandemic in the state. While the political leaders are busy in the election campaigns, the health department is bracing up the challenge in curbing the spread across the state. 

Tamil Nadu has been reporting over 2000 cases each day for the past few days and the resurgence of the pandemic was made possible by the grounds of large-scale violations of the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines. With Chennai witnessing a sharp spike in fresh cases, G Prakash, the Commissioner of Greater Chennai Corporation, has now warned the people that strict COVID-19 regulations will be imposed again after the Tamil Nadu elections on April 6. 

Prakash said that the measures of old limitations will be implemented for the containment drive after the election and he further stated that regulatory compliance such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance need to be followed strictly and violators shall be heavily penalized. 

By appealing to the people to get prepared for restriction on movement post assembly election, Prakash further said, "This is going to be bitter. Common life and normal life is going to be different but we have no other way". The health department said that the rise in the number of new cases was due to the re-opening of schools, colleges, and increased political activity. 

Chennai has been recording a steady surge in fresh cases, which had pushed the civic body to initiate strict actions and measures to mitigate the spread. According to reports, the directorate of public health had alarmed the state government over the growth rate of positive cases. The directorate has warned that the growth rate of positive cases is higher than the earlier surge in 2020. It had further advised the district officials to rollout effective control measures to contain the resurgence. 

The advice was issued on Friday when the state had recorded over 3,000 cases.  On Friday, the state has reported 3,290 cases and 12 deaths. Of 3,290 cases, 1,188 cases belong to Chennai, which amounts to 50% of the total cases. According to a news agency, Director of Public Health Dr. TS Selvavinayagam said, "The case count is rising exponentially on a week to week basis. On Friday, the weekly average number of fresh cases reported in the state was 2,513 compared to 462 cases reported on March 2".

He further said, "The rate of growth of positive cases this time is higher than the earlier surge in 2020. Cases are not only increasing in urban areas but also in tier 2 cities and rural areas". The reports say that the last time the state saw a weekly average of around 2,500 was in the first week of November 2020. The growth rate of average weekly cases was 5.7% in Tamil Nadu - the highest since July 2020. 

As part of the vaccination drive, around 31,75,349 people in Tamil Nadu have received COVID-19 vaccines so far as of Friday including 60,726 people who received the vaccines on Friday alone. The warning to Chennai over the possibility of another lockdown has come at a high time when the state is surfaced with the speculations over the lockdown and days after Tamil Nadu Health Minister Jayakumar had asserted that there is no plan of imposing lockdown again in the state. 

According to the state health department, Tamil Nadu has reported 8,92,780 COVID-19 cases so far as of Friday including 3,290 cases that were reported on Friday. Of the total cases, 18,606 are active, 8,61,424 have been discharged, and 12,750 had succumbed to the viral infection.