COVID-19 deaths and infections on the rise in Tamil Nadu

Published : July 16, 2020 20:58 IST

A street in Dindigul, Tamil Nadu, being fenced by corporation workers as a containment zone on July 14. Photo: G. KARTHIKEYAN

With 69 more people dying of Covid-19 related complications on July 16, the number of deaths due to the infection in Tamil Nadu has reached 1,035 since July 1. In June, which witnessed a major spike in the spread of the infection, the number of deaths was 1,041. In total, 2,236 people have succumbed to the infection in the State.

The problem with the death statistics in the case of Tamil Nadu is the galloping numbers with each passing month. In March, there was just one death. In April, this rose to 26; it May, it was 133.

With the Tamil Nadu government keeping the number of tests higher than all the other States , the total number of infections detected, too, are increasing. On July 16, the total number is 1.56 lakh. In Chennai, the infection number remained lower than that of the districts on July 16. It recorded 1,157 infections – down from 1,291 (July 15), 1,078 (July 14), 1,140 (July 13), 1,168 (July 12), 1,185 (July 11) and 1,205 (July 10). In comparison, the number of infections in the districts has been increasing – from 2,475 on July 10, the graph has grown steadily to reach a high of 3,448 (July14). A dip was recorded on July 15 (3,205). It again increased to 3,392 on July 16.

While Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said on July 15 that the number of infections in Tamil Nadu will come down in about 10 days, the facts on the ground indicate that the numbers continue to grow. Noting that the infections were increasing significantly in the southern districts, Manickam Tagore, a Congress MP from Virudhunagar, wrote to the Chief Minister asking him to pay attention to these districts. Given the huge jump in infections in Virudhunagar, he has asked the Chief Minister why the government had limited testing on July 14 to 837 and to 926 on July 15. In his view, though the Chief Minister was touring many other places, he had not come to the southern districts for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.

Thangam Thennarasu, a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLA from Virudhunagar district, has asked the government why there was a discrepancy between the infection figure given in the district and the one officially released in Chennai. For instance, he said, on July 13, the government press release issued in Chennai stated that the number of infections in the district was 25 but, on the same day, the Deputy Director in charge of health in Virudhunagar had recorded that the number of infections was 145. “Which of this is correct and why is the government giving two numbers in two different places?” he said.

Anecdotal evidence from the two leading private hospitals in Madurai indicates that the number of infections is on the rise in all the nine southern districts. A senior politician from the south said that he had to use “all his pull” to get a bed for a close relative in a private hospital in Madurai. Both hospitals have been keeping patients with mild symptoms at a nearby hotel.