The Tamil Nadu Health Department is keeping a guarded watch on Chennai, state's coronavirus epicenter, even as its daily COVID-19 figures showed a dip for the fifth consecutive day. As 1,140 people tested positive in the state capital on Monday, the overall fall in daily numbers was 53 per cent. More than 2,000 cases were registered in Chennai between July 29 and June 3.
"Despite increase in tests, Chennai's daily coronavirus figure has come down to around 1,200 cases. It's too early for us to comment on the Chennai model, but we will continue to do the aggressive testing and continue to focus on fever camps, market and other congested areas because Chennai has opened up," Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan told NDTV.
However, the temple town of Madurai seems to be emerging as a new Covid hot spot. There has been a six-fold rise in daily COVID-19 numbers in a little over two weeks - from 988 to 6,539 total cases on Monday.
Dr Radhakrishnan added that the congested pockets and urban slums in Madurai along with lack of compliance with regard to masks and physical distancing are posing a challenge in containing the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu and Thiruvallur districts adjoining Chennai have also see a spike in coronavirus cases.
Dr Radhakrishnan attributed the spike in cases to inter-district movement even as the government extended suspension of bus services till the end of the month.
The health department said it is rapidly increasing COVID care centres across the state, where 60% of Covid patients are recovering without the need for administering oxygen.
"The Chief Minister has sanctioned another Rs 75 crore for beds with oxygen supply. We are on the safe side as far as infrastructure is concerned," he said.
The health department added that they are also replicating the Chennai model in these districts by increasing testing to 10 times the number of people found positive and tripling the number of fever camps.
Though Tamil Nadu's daily testing has increased to 45,000 people, the state does not give a district-wise split of the tests conducted giving rise to speculation that the state had not ramped up testing in districts other than Chennai.
Dr Radhakrishnan dismissed these claims and said such data was not being provided because of manpower shortage in labs. "We have no problem in showing district data," he said.
With 4,328 people testing positive on July 13, Tamil Nadu's tally of active cases stood at 48,916 with total rising to 1,42,798. Chennai alone accounts for 16,601 active cases and a total of 78,573 cases.