Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and top officials on Saturday insisted that there was no community spread of COVID-19 in Chennai.
As per the WHO guidelines, there has been no community transmission. The link for every COVID-19 case is being traced, recorded and followed up, according to a top official of the Greater Chennai Corporation.
In Salem, Mr. Palaniswami told journalists that more cases were reported from containment areas, where six-seven persons were living in cramped houses.
“If they had been taking necessary precautionary measures, this transmission would not have happened. As far as Chennai is concerned, only certain areas are affected,” he said, ruing that people had ignored government’s safety advisory.
Launching a slum outreach programme with the involvement of 97 NGOs in the city to fight the pandemic, Chennai Corporation special nodal officer J. Radhakrishnan said that it could not be community transmission if the links could be traced and recorded. For example in Tiruvottiyur, one case in a group of 15 was traced to a bank. “If the links are known, it is stage 2. If they are not known, it is stage 3,” he said.
Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash said the corporation had an army of health workers who were doing contact tracing. “We do it within 24 hours. There is no difficulty in tracing the contacts. We know where the transmission is coming from from our analysis,” he said.
“In Chennai, 14,000 tests have been done per million. The continuance is severed when the chain of positive cases is cut,” he added.
“With the permission of the infected, we trace the contacts through phone numbers and check within 24-48 hours,” Mr. Radhakrishnan said.
The way forward is to prevent transmission, he said, adding that there were still 15 to 20% of the people in the containment zones who do not follow discipline.
“While 98% of people understand, the change in habit hasn’t come,” he said.
Both the officials launched the slum outreach programme at Nochi Nagar involving 97 NGOs to reach out to nearly 2,000 slum areas.
“In Chennai, there is a concern when the number of cases comes out in the evening. But there are a few positives. The net live cases are only 1,461 as 3991 have been treated and discharged. The death rate is 0.7 percentage,” he said reiterating the need for discipline in containment zones.
Mr. Prakash said the Corporation had devised a three-pronged approach. In slums in 1,979 locations, NGOs would reach out to create basic discipline, give free masks and kabasura kudineer. They will identify those with diabetes, lung and kidney diseases to protect them from the virus. The programme has started in all the slums and the situation will stabilise in a week, he said.
Also, 140 PHCs have patient list through which doctors and health workers would be in touch with 1.75 lakh persons with diabetes and hypertension and give them medicines for a month and enquire about their health frequently. Around eight lakh people were above the age of 60 in the city. Of them, two lakh suffer from hypertension, diabetes and other conditions. HelpAge India will reach out to them with advice and questions, he said.