COVID cases rise alarmingly in Chennai; lockdown extended across India

Published : May 01, 2020 19:43 IST

Dr J. Radhakrishnan, who has been appointed nodal officer for Chennai. Photo: R. Ravindran

The runaway increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Chennai has prompted the Tamil Nadu government to take steps to curb its rapid spread. The steps include the appointment of a nodal officer and extending some of the restrictions that are in place in the city for some more time.

A Central government report, accessed by a news television channel, has classified Chennai among the 12 red zones in India. The Central government has also announced an extension of the lockdown by two more weeks beyond May 3.

According to statistics released on May 1, 6 p.m., by the State Health Department, Chennai reported an additional 176 cases today, taking the total number of cases in the city to 1,082. The total number of cases in Tamil Nadu as on today is 2,526.

The number of cases in Chennai has risen rapidly over the past week. On April 30, for instance, Chennai registered 138 new positive cases and the State as a whole 161. As of April 29, Chennai had a total of 768 cases. In the next two days the city added another 314 cases.

Nodal officer for Chennai

In a belated move, the government appointed one of its best managers, J. Radhakrishnan, an IAS officer, as a nodal officer for the Chennai Corporation. Dr Radhakrishnan had earlier served the civic body as its Commissioner and as a junior officer, and he is well aware of the problems in the civic body. The appointment also does not ruffle any feathers because the present Commissioner has not been replaced; an additional spot has been created in the Corporation for the limited purpose of controlling the pandemic in the civic body area.

This, in fact, is the defining problem of the Tamil Nadu government as it seeks to placate its Ministers and, at the same time, control a pandemic working through both the Chennai Corporation and the Health Department.

The State government, much like the Central government, does not seem to have any plan barring the lockdown. Even during the lockdown period, the increase in COVID-19 infections is alarming.

A classic case of State government bungling was seen in the announcement of a lockdown within a lockdown by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on April 24. He said that the severe lockdown in some cities in the State would be operational from April 26.

This led to panic buying and crowding of people across markets and stores in those cities on April 25, potentially exposing people to the infection. As soon as the curbs were lifted on April 30, people again crowded markets and stores across these cities, including Chennai, leading to a second wave of possible exposure to the virus through close contact, that could result in the spread of the virus.

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