Five months ahead of the assembly elections, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami today simultaneously inaugurated 2,000 Amma mini COVID-19 clinics across Tamil Nadu. The state is the fourth worst-affected in the country with nearly eight lakh people contracting the disease since its breakout in January.
"Two thousand mini-clinics have been opened simultaneously all over Tamil Nadu," the Chief Minister said at the inauguration in Chennai.
Each Amma clinic, named after late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, will have a doctor, a nurse, and an assistant and will help in public consultation and basic investigation, officials said. These facilities are expected to further strengthen Tamil Nadu's already robust health care system. Up to 100 patients are likely to visit each clinic per day, they said, adding that more doctors could be hired if required.
Addressing a gathering, Tamil Nadu Deputy CM, O Panneerselvam, said the state had achieved a milestone with these new facilities, ANI reported.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appreciated our government's efforts in controlling coronavirus. We have conducted a home-to-home campaign to trace the spread of COVID-19. The deadly virus is under control in Chennai," Mr Panneerselvam said.
State Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan told NDTV that an earlier similar initiative had helped a lot in tackling the pandemic.
"The fever clinics we started earlier helped so much in combating the spike. This idea came from that. COVID has shown there is no class distinction. We hope both poor and middle classes will make use of these," Radhakrishnan said.
On Sunday, Tamil Nadu reported 1,195 new cases of COVID-19, taking the tally of total cases to 7,98,888, the State Health and Family Welfare Department said. Twelve people died in the past 24 hours, taking the state's overall fatality due to the disease to 11,895.
The mini-clinic initiative comes at a time when the state and its key political parties have begun preparing for the 2021 assembly elections. While the ruling AIADMK is allied with Prime Minister Modi's BJP, the rival combine headed by the DMK is looking to topple it in a few months' time.
In the meantime, Tamil Nadu has also seen new political parties like MNM, founded by top movie actor Kamal Haasan, and the yet-to-be names outfit of his colleague Rajinikanth increasingly becoming vocal on political and public matters.
Mr Rajinikanth's new party will be announced on New Year's eve, which, along with the MNM, is expected to change the dynamics of Tamil politics considerably over the next few months. The MNM, meanwhile, has already launched its campaign from Madurai on Sunday.