Rise in Covid-19 in Chennai, 2022 start with Lockdown?

Covid-19 cases doubled in the last 48 hours in Chennai, with the city reporting 397 new cases on Thursday, 103 cases more than its tally on Wednesday, and 203 cases more than what it recorded on Tuesday. Experts warned that the situation is expected to worsen in the weeks following

the New Year holidays.

“We are seeing a spike of more than 100 cases for the second consecutive day. While we continue to see Delta variants, the rapid spread indicates the presence of Omicron too,” said health secretary J Radhakrishnan. While there are just 46 confirmed cases of Omicron, the state has reported at least 146 international travellers and their contacts with S-gene dropout, which is an indicator of Omicron. City labs are reporting a spike in S-gene dropouts even in those without travel history, officials said.

For instance, the cluster of Covid-19 cases from the Rajiv Gandhi Government General hospital rose to 128 on Thursday. The source of infection was one of the patients, a diabetic, admitted for a skin graft procedure on December  17. On Thursday, after testing 4,400 contacts including doctors, nurses, medicos, nursing students, the total number of cases in the cluster rose to 128. Among these, S-gene dropout was noticed in at least 93 patients. All patients carrying the new variant showed mild symptoms of the infection. “They have cold, sore throat, fatigue, and mild

temperature. The virus affects the bronchi, but we haven’t yet seen patients with lung infections,” said Radhakrishnan.

The bigger challenge now is that people with mild or no symptoms are becoming super spreaders, particularly in vulnerable places such as hospitals. In another cluster, with nearly 10 cases on a street, the index case was an attendee to a patient admitted to a government hospital. Corporation officials barricaded the street in Ashok Nagar and declared it

a containment zone. “The only way to keep the disease under check is to increase testing,” said Corporation commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi. The corporation will increase random sampling in vulnerable areas. “Attenders and visitors of hospitals, people in crowded places, markets,

workplaces, and hostels will be tested over the next few weeks,” he said. He said the aim is to conduct at least 25000 tests in the city every day.

In a Covid-19 enforcement meeting he chaired on Thursday, Bedi asked officials to monitor all the business complexes and marketplaces on Covid protocol adherence. “A two member team each for all fifteen zones. We will be imposing fines on people who violate social distancing norms or those who don’t wear masks,” he said.

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