Coronavirus consumed six more lives in Tamil Nadu on Monday as the state saw the biggest daily increase in infections yet at 798, taking the cumulative number of infections to 8,002.
Monday was the fifth day in a row when Tamil Nadu registered positive cases in excess of 500 as it reels from a second surge in Coronavirus spread, placing pressure on the state’s healthcare response and ability to keep pace with the Centre’s plan of lockdown exit.
The rise in infections was largely pushed by the jump in cases in Chennai, which recorded 538 cases in the last 24 hours, the biggest daily spike for the second in a row. The city had registered 509 cases on Sunday.
Considering the rise in cases, chief minister EK Palaniswami told Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the virtual meet with all CMs that rail and air transport were best kept suspended in the state till May-end.
Palaniswami also placed a request for more RT-PCR kits, the confirmatory tests used to establish a coronavirus infection. “The state is continuing its strategy of aggressive, targeted testing and I request GoI to supply more number of PCR testing kits,” Palaniswami wrote in a letter to Modi.
Tamil Nadu had till now aligned its governance with that of the Centre on almost all issues related to Covid-19. But because of the fresh surge, the state was forced to inform the Centre of its inability to accommodate trains and air transport, a departure from the Centre’s method of lockdown relaxation.
For many weeks, the state had managed to keep the virus in control even as Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra began witnessing periodic spikes.
Tamil Nadu developed the clusters post the lockdown: the returnees from the Tablighi Jamaat conference numbering over 1,500 had to be tracked and isolated. The second cluster, the Koyambedu wholesale market, appeared on the radar on April 24.
The Koyambedu cluster was originally estimated to have required tracing of over 7,000 people. The surge in cases over the last ten days is understood to be linked to the outbreak.
The state government has indicated that the spike caused by the second cluster will continue through the week. Going forward, Tamil Nadu is expected to report a flattening by mid-May, when the second cluster is expected to peter out.
The AIADMK government’s response to the crisis has been criticised as reactionary. While the state initially focussed on “correct, judicious testing” and aggressive containment, it has now had to ramp up testing.
At its last count, Tamil Nadu tested 11,862 samples in a day and 2,54,899 samples in total. Among highly infected states, Tamil Nadu tests a much higher number of people every day.