Compounding its woes, Tamil Nadu on Tuesday reported a near doubling of its coronavirus positive cases with 57 fresh cases, including those who attended the Islamic congregation in Delhi and even a doctor, taking the state's total number to 124.
Out of the new cases, 50 of them have a travel history to Delhi to attend the conference held by the Tablighi Jamaat.
Tamil Nadu Health Minister C.Vijayabaskar on Tuesday said the new patients have been admitted into hospitals in Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Chennai and Namakkal.
Meanwhile, the state officials were busy tracing other persons who had attended the event at Tablighi Jamaat's international headquarters Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi, pointing out that around 1,500 persons from the southern state had gone there.
They also brought Erode district under strict monitoring as several persons from there have tested positive for coronavirus.
According to a Health Department official, the spike in corona positive cases was due to the fact that those affected had mingled with others and passed on the infection.
Some Thai and Indonesian nationals had also attended the conference and then visited Tamil Nadu. Two of these Thai nationals, who tested positive, have been admitted to hospital here. The 54-year-old patient in Madurai who became the state's first Covid-19 fatality last week was in contact with these two Thai nationals.
Health Department officials are screening persons who have returned after attending the conference.
"We have covered more than 500 persons who had attended the Delhi event. The exact number is yet to be known," an official said.
According to him, a sizeable number of persons who had attended the conference are from Erode and Coimbatore. Other places from where Muslims had attended the event include Sivaganga, Thanjavur, Nagercoil, and Kanyakumari.
With Erode district topping the state with 24 positive cases, the Tamil Nadu government is seriously implementing its containment plan under which an area with 7km radius from the house of a coronavirus patient is declared a containment zone.
All the homes located within that radius will be surveyed and its residents screened.
Suspected cases are stamped with quarantine warning on the back of their hands.
Also, in another worrying development in Erode, a doctor who treated Covid-19 patients in Erode, her 10-month-old baby and two others in her household tested positive and are admitted to hospital.
Meanwhile, Sivaganga District Collector J. Jayakanthan told IANS that "none of the persons who had attended the conference from Sivaganga have been found infected with coronarvirus".
Revenue Commissioner J. Radhakrishan appealed to those who had attended the Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi to self-declare so that necessary tests could be done and necessary steps taken.
Appeals have been made to family members of attendees to home quarantine themselves and register with the nearest government hospital.
Officials in Vandavasi had enquired with 37 persons who had attended the Delhi conference.
In 13 districts where coronavirus patients have been reported, about 1.08 lakh homes have been checked and over 3 lakh persons screened.
A health official told IANS the screening had brought to the fore many asymptomatic persons which was worrisome.
As of March 30, as many as 3,052 contacts of earlier coronavirus patients in Tamil Nadu have been traced. A total of 74,533 persons have been home quarantined.
The state is also taking steps to tackle increased admissions of COVID-19 patients by augmenting bed capacity in hospitals and ordering masks, ventilators and other items.
Chief Minister K. Palaniswami on Tuesday announced extension in service on temporary contract basis for doctors, nurses and lab technicians set to retire on March-end.
The government has also placed orders to procure 1.1 crore masks, 25 lakh N-95 masks, 2,500 ventilators, 30,000 test kits and other medical items.