With 618 people in Chennai testing positive for coronavirus on Friday, the state capital has over two-thirds of Tamil Nadu's 20,246 cases. Tamil Nadu saw a single-day high, with 874 new cases.
Earlier, it was Chennai's Koyambedu vegetable market that emerged as a big worry for the state, with at least 2,600 people linked to the market, from workers to farmers and customers, being infected with the highly contagious virus.
Now, five clusters in the city, including cramped urban slums with a population of 26 lakh is have emerged as a huge challenge. Social distancing is often compromised in these slums, with many residents not wearing masks and being forced to use public toilets. Authorities have roped in NGOs to raise awareness in the settlements. 50 lakh free masks are also being distributed.
There has been of an average of 530 cases over the last two weeks. Chennai has a total of 13,362 COVID-19 cases.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said on Friday, "Chennai is a city with a huge population, with many narrow lanes, cramped houses and many people live in a single house. Nevertheless, the government is doing everything to control this."
1,533 migrants who returned home, mostly from Maharashtra, have tested positive for the virus. This influx too adds to the daily number in Tamil Nadu.
Amid allegations of complacency during the initial stages of the coronavirus outbreak, the state government had recently appointed senior bureaucrat Dr J Radhakrishnan who had overseen relief and rehabilitation in the Tsunami-ravaged Nagapattinam as the special nodal officer for Chennai.
The state government attributes the ramped up testing, of upto 12,000 every day, as a key reason for the spike in cases. Though the recovery rate is 51 per cent, the incremental rise in its mortality rate from 0.5 to 0.7 per cent is something many say the government may want to keep under check.