Amid a spike in the number of cases and coronavirus hotspots in the state, Tamil Nadu will begin rapid testing to speed up COVID-19 screening on Friday. Chennai has the maximum number of cases among the 621 reported so far in the state.
A 57-year-old woman from Chennai, who reported at the Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital on Sunday evening with severe respiratory problems and had travelled to Trichy on March 20, died on Monday morning — the state’s toll rose to six with this death.
Fifty new cases were reported, including 48 linked to the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi.
About 92,000 people are in home quarantine and 205 in government facilities in the state. Nearly 19,000 people have completed their quarantine period without symptoms.
Meanwhile, CM Edappadi K Palaniswami Monday said that 1 lakh rapid test kits have been procured from China which will reach the state on Thursday and distributed in districts by Friday.
Tamil Nadu has among the maximum number of labs for COVID-19 tests, including 11 in the government sector and six in private facilities. CM Palaniswami said the state has adequate stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and N95 masks. “We are adding 2 lakh masks every day, and over 2,000 ventilators, besides the 3,371 ventilators already available in government and private facilities,” he said.
The state will set up a dozen more labs, including in Coonoor in Nilgiris, in the next few days.
Of about 5,000 samples tested in the state so far, private labs have handled 500, of which only 15 samples turned positive, against 621 positive cases in government labs. “The number of samples will increase as more government and private labs are being added,” a health official added.
State Health Secretary Beela Rajesh said the government has approached the National Institute of Epidemiology in Chennai to carry out two state-specific studies on the outbreak. “We have asked for two studies about big sources of outbreak to look at the pattern,” she said, referring to two workers from a shop in a Chennai mall who got infected from a customer who later tested positive after his arrival in Sri Lanka, and tracing the origin of cases linked to the Tablighi Jamaat meet.
“We are going to request a similar study on animals too, to take up a study on the virus itself. While the first study will look at the epidemiology of the outbreak and major sources, the way it played out from the first date, symptoms and patterns, the second study will look at the virus, genetic mutations and change in virus characters.”
Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K Shanmugam had last week said the state government took up the issue of rapid testing with the Centre and that the Union government recommended it to follow the existing real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) based test.
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