Onion sacks being unloaded in Chennai on Friday. (Source: PTI)
With 77 more samples testing positive, the number of COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu climbed to 911 on Friday. State chief secretary K Shanmugam said the new cases being reported now are all primary or secondary contacts of people with a travel history.
Meanwhile, an expert committee formed to track the spread of COVID-19 in the state has recommended to the government that the lockdown be extended by two more weeks.
Shanmugam said there were 77 new cases reported on Friday. “Of total cases (911), only 23 cases remain in mystery for having no specific contact history. Otherwise, we cannot say that we have already entered into a community transmission stage. But experts have advised that any hurried decision to lift the lockdown will spoil advantages that we gained already with this lockdown,” he said.
A senior government official said Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami may take a final decision after the cabinet meeting on Saturday.
Meanwhile, among the 911 positive COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu so far, five are doctors.
A woman doctor contracted the infection on March 18 while working at a railway hospital in Erode, epidemiological data has shown. According to officials at the hospital, she contracted the infection on March 18 from a 63-year-old patient, who was a co-traveller of two Thai nationals who had tested positive. While attending to the patient, the doctor did not have goggles, N95 masks or protective clothing, said the officials.
By the time the doctor started showing symptoms, she had infected four family members, including her 10-month-old child.
About 35 health workers were put in isolation as they had come in contact with the doctor at a send-off ceremony they had organised for her. “It was her final week at Erode hospital as she had been transferred to a Coimbatore hospital. Not knowing she was infected, they organised a small gathering. Luckily, none of them were infected,” said a health official.
The health department has found that three of the five doctors who have tested positive contracted the infection at work.
A senior official said one of the doctors was infected while on airport duty. “Another doctor was working for a private hospital and was infected there. Their condition is stable.”
The two other doctors to test positive were on leave when they were infected. One of the doctors was part of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi and another doctor contracted the infection from her husband, who attended the same event.
State health secretary Beela Rajesh has said, “We have enough stock of masks, gloves, PPEs and essential safety gears.”
Dr K Kolandaswamy, state public health director, said, “Police, prison authorities, self-help groups and garment workers in Tirupur and several industrial units are producing hundreds of masks and PPEs on a daily basis.”
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