‘Increase testing’: Experts warn as TN sees worrying Covid surge

"We are in the endemic phase of the pandemic and the most prevalent are the BA4 and BA5 sub-variants of Omicron. Over the period of past few months, we have witnessed that people have become negligent and they think mask is not required. We have 95% dual vaccine coverage, but there are only 5% people who have been administered with booster dose. The performance of booster dose coverage is bad, " says senior virologist Dr Jacob John.
‘Increase testing’: Experts warn as TN sees worrying Covid surge
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CHENNAI: With the cases of Covid increasing everyday in the State, experts blame it on the negligence among public and poor booster dose coverage across the State. As the positivity rate is nearing 10% in few districts and districts neighbouring Chennai witness a spurt in the cases of Covid, public health experts also on the need to increase the testing of samples.

"We are in the endemic phase of the pandemic and the most prevalent are the BA4 and BA5 sub-variants of Omicron. Over the period of past few months, we have witnessed that people have become negligent and they think mask is not required. We have 95% dual vaccine coverage, but there are only 5% people who have been administered with booster dose. The performance of booster dose coverage is bad, " says senior virologist Dr Jacob John.

Experts say that most of the samples are Omicron cases and the test positivity rate is increasing in the city. Dr Saranya Narayan, Technical Director - Chief Microbiologist, Neuberg Diagnostics said that we are seeing far more of Omicron samples since May beginning than in the preceding 3 months in Chennai. Now, we are at 11% test positive percentage at our laboratory in Chennai. We see some samples in clusters from one family or locality, about 40%, rest are spread across the city."

The common symptoms include running nose for 3-5 days, low grade fever, fatigue. "Several have no symptoms and are incidentally identified in the course of mandatory screening prior to international travel. Most people self-quarantine, as symptoms are not severe being treated as a routine flu. Only those who are feeling ill or are traveling get tested. Very few samples are being received from hospitalised patients or OP clinics in hospitals. We are seeing some positives in people returning from US, " added Dr Saranya.

However, on the other hand, scientists also say that we cannot undermine the BA4 and BA5 sub-variants of Omicron, because the same variant has proven risky for other countries and natural immunity has a major role. "South Korea had 400 death in a day due to the same variant of Omicron. The same variant is causing deaths in other countries, and it does not have such severity in our country.

“We cannot directly be confident about the vaccinations because South Korea, and Singapore had good vaccination coverage but there has been a surge in cases and deaths. We have good amount of sero positivity among the people and those recovered are also protected against the infection. Though vaccination is reducing the risk of infection and severity, the sero positivity plays a very significant role, " says public health and infectious diseases expert Dr K Sanjay Rai.

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