Chennai in a ‘long pause’, makes incremental gains

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    Any celebration will be premature at this stage: Health Secy.

    With the city’s daily count dropping to under 1,000 cases for the first time in nearly one-and-a-half months, there seems to be a sort of slowing down of the pandemic. While the number of cases is coming down in the city, despite about 12,000 tests being performed every day, the percentage of recovered cases and active cases too have made steady, yet incremental gains.

    “Let’s not be hasty and make any declarations yet. Yes, the numbers have been consistently lower than 1,100, and today, even lower, despite ramping up tests. We can probably say that there has been a ‘long pause’ in the epidemic in Chennai,” said Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan.

    He warns that any celebration will be premature at this stage. However, he acknowledges the steady work that has led to these gains — the high number of tests, fever camps, contact tracing and volunteer outreach in nearly every home in the Corporation limits.

    “The way this epidemic proceeds rests a lot on public behaviour. Mask wearing has really picked up in Chennai. That has helped too,” he said.

    Prabhdeep Kaur, Scientist E/deputy director, Indian Council of Medical Research- National Institute of Epidemiology, agrees. “Compliance with the mask wearing rule is better now; much better than in some places in Europe. Testing and mask wearing are two things that are making a big difference. More people are wearing masks and more people are willing to get tested too,” she added.

    Behavioural change

    The significant change has also been social, a behavioural change. That is also why transmission has slowed down. More people are cautious and aware, wanting to test themselves. Transmission, as a result, is not happening beyond the family and the workplace, she added.

    Dr. Radhakrishnan explains that the new emerging concern is workplace transmission, now that companies have been allowed to bring in people. “One worrisome area is the common lunch habit. People fail to maintain distance. They, of course, do not wear masks. We are intervening with offices to ensure that the message goes out to all employees coming in to work, and are also changing our messaging subtly to suit the group.”

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