“As far as Chennai is concerned, the increasing number of cases are only from select areas and wards," TN CM Palaniswami said.

An elderly woman receives face mask at a camp in ChennaiImage for Representation
Coronavirus Coronavirus Sunday, May 24, 2020 - 15:03

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami insisted that there is no community spread in Chennai, the district that has the most number of COVID-19 cases in the state. A total of 624 positive cases were reported from Chennai just on Saturday and with this, the state capital’s total number of COVID-19 patients is inching towards the 10,000-mark. The city has reported 9,989 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday morning.

“As far as Chennai is concerned, the increasing number of cases are only from select areas and wards. These are the containment areas that have narrow streets with closely packed houses with seven to eight people living under one roof. We are able to find most number of cases in such areas. Had they followed government rules and stayed safe, we could have avoided this,” he said, while speaking to reporters in Salem on Saturday.

However, both experts and patients who spoke to TNM allege that the Chief Minister is not giving residents a complete picture.

Dr Jacob John, a virologist from Christian Medical College in Vellore, tells TNM that refusing to acknowledge community transmission will prove to be detrimental for society.

"We were able to tackle the HIV epidemic because the government was transparent that it was spreading with the community and needed to be addressed," says Dr Jacob. "By admitting that there is community transmission we are equipping residents with the knowledge and caution that should be exercised while going about their daily activities," he adds.

While Tamil Nadu has not revealed how many infected patients have no sources traced so far, a report from April suggests that the number stands at around 60 at least.

Latha*, a resident of Chennai, whose mother was found positive for the virus, says that her family had taken all necessary precautions to avoid getting infected.

"My mother only went to the market at stipulated times and took the recommended precautions, but she still got infected," says Latha. "The Corporation did contact tracing and extended contact tracing based on our inputs but they still don't know the source of infection. When I asked them, they said they had done their best and that they were unable to conclude how she was infected. She clearly got it from the community right?" she asks.

As on Sunday morning, four zones in Chennai have over 1,000 COVID-19 cases. This includes Royapuram (zone five) with 1889, Thiru Vi Ka Nagar (zone six) 1133, Teynampet (zone nine) 1054 and Kodambakkam (zone 10) with 1319 COVID-19 cases.

Tamil Nadu reported 759 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and of this number, 49 were persons who had travelled to the state from other parts of the world. Taking note, Chief Minister said the rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the state is also attributed to the incoming of Tamil returnees from other parts of the world.

Palaniswami said 719 people who had come to Tamil Nadu from other states in India had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Over the past couple of days alone, 90 new cases were people coming from other states and countries, he added.

On Saturday, 23 of the 37 districts did not report any new coronavirus cases. The 49 new COVID-19 cases reported on Saturday from passengers who had come to Tamil Nadu: 24 from Maharashtra, three from West Bengal, six from Rajasthan, and one each from New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, five from the Philippines and seven from London.

A total of 363 people were discharged on Saturday, taking the number of recovered patients to 7,491. Of the 15,512 COVID-19 cases reported in Tamil Nadu, the number of active cases stands at 7,915.

Five COVID-19 patients died on Saturday, raising the death toll in Tamil Nadu to 103. The number of infected children in the age group 0-12 went up to 948 on Saturday.

Chief Minister Palaniswami said that the state was collecting and testing the highest number of swab samples a day in the country. On Saturday, 12,155 samples were tested taking the total to 3.97 lakh.

(With inputs from Anjana Shekar and IANS)

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