CHENNAI: With an increase in the cases of reports of Covid in Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka among other states, including Tamil Nadu, and detection of BA 4 and BA 5 lineages of Omicron variant in Tamil Nadu, Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan asked the district Collectors and Greater Chennai Corporation officials to ensure wearing masks, follow up on vaccinations and social distance.
He inspected the Covid prevention measures at Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development in Sriperumbudur on Tuesday. In his letter, he said that the local bodies should make earnest efforts at all levels to arrest the trend, by involving all stakeholders and sensitising the people.
So far, cases reported have been mild, but as the number increases mortality among co-morbid and or elderly, especially those whose immunity levels have gone down is also likely to increase.
Giving details on the cases in the districts, he said that Greater Chennai Corporation followed by Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram, Coimbatore, Tiruvallur are regularly having positive cases and now Madurai, Vellore, Erode, Thanjavur and Ranipet and a total ranging from 14-17 districts out of 38 districts have started witnessing a surge in the cases of Covid.
Mentioning the institutional clusters, he said that every week at least one new institutional cluster gets detected though the earlier four clusters reported in IIT, Anna University School of Architecture, Sathya Sai Medical University and VIT-Kelambakkam campuses have been effectively controlled. He pointed out that index cases in these clusters have recent travel history in one instance traced to cultural event.
"This is a pointer to the need for self health monitoring and reporting symptoms followed by testing and isolation for those returning from travel or reporting symptoms after events. Isolated cases have also been seen in institutions at Kancheepuram and the Nilgiris and efforts are being made to prevent any clusters,” the Health Secretary stated.
Highlighting the need of control measures, he said that sporadic clusters from families and in workplaces after functions, events, gatherings or even hospital visits for other conditions have been undertaken and so far localised or generalized spread has been prevented.
He reiterated on the need to adopt the five-pronged strategy of Covid-appropriate behaviour, testing, tracing, treatment and vaccination. "We need to give a systematic push to vaccinations, as the number of over 43 lakh persons are yet to take their first dose, 1.21 crore have not taken second dose and about 14.52 lakh people eligible for booster dose have been been vaccinated and make community all the more vulnerable. The focus should be on vaccination and overcoming vaccine hesitancy among the eligible yet to get vaccinated persons and overcoming vaccine apathy among those who are eligible but yet to take the second and the booster dose," he said.
He asked the local bodies to review the micro plan for the special mega camp being planned on 12 June apart from encouraging effective utilisation of the vaccination centers functioning daily in the districts.
He also reiterated that people with symptoms in all settings should be tested and guided to self isolation till results come and all Influenza like illnesses (ILI), severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) should be a part of testing protocol. The positive cases can be treated depending on their medical condition either in home quarantine or in hospitals as per the assessment and their contacts traced and tested. Samples as per the protocol should also be sent for Whole genomic sequencing.
He added that there is no need for any immediate panic as till now they have been only localised increases with identifiable reasons in select districts and sporadic cases in others. However considering the earlier experiences, steps should be taken to ensure that the cases are prevented, controlled and the trend of increasing fresh cases is reversed.