Chennai’s Test Positivity Rate Twice That Of Tamil Nadu Amid Omicron Spread | Latest India News


With the rapidly evolving Omicron variant, Chennai’s Covid test positivity rate fell from 3.3% on January 1 to 17.4% on January 9, which is exactly double the average for the state that rose from 1.4% to 8.7% over the same period. The state capital, like most subways, has been the driving force behind the increase in the number of cases in Tamil Nadu since the start of the pandemic and is contributing to the number of cases in the third wave of infections.

“The test positivity rate is an indicator of the extent of active transmission of the infection,” said Dr K Kolandaswamy, public health expert and retired public health director of Tamil Nadu. “The real problem that we are seeing around the world is that people have the false impression that Omicron is gentle. It is only mild among the vaccinated population and those who have been infected and cured. This is not the case for those who are not vaccinated, are over 60 years of age and have co-morbidities.

Cases started doubling in Chennai last week. Of 876 new cases on January 3, the capital reported 2,481 cases on January 5. Tamil Nadu reported 13,990 new cases on Monday, including 6,190 in Chennai. The number of people tested in the state is 1.34 lakh on Monday, while Chennai has tested more than 35,000 as of January 9, according to a state health bulletin.

The positivity rate in Chennai, however, is much lower than that of Mumbai (28.5%) on January 9 and Delhi (25%) on Monday.

While overall hospitalizations were lower this time around compared to the second wave of the Delta variant, beds in private facilities fill up quickly, but public facilities still have a large number of vacant beds.

As of Monday, only 6,706 beds were occupied out of a total of 75,086 beds, including intensive care units and those with oxygen support available statewide. The state has not dismantled its infrastructure that was in place during the second wave last year and the health ministry has since increased bed capacity with oxygen support.

“There is 1% occupancy in intensive care beds and very few people are on ventilators,” Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said. This is due to a less severe disease produced by the Omicron variant compared to the globally dominant Delta variant which, when it peaked, resulted in a shortage of medical grade oxygen across the country.

“Omicron is the reason for the sudden increase in cases. We don’t need to panic, but people need to cooperate by following pandemic standards. If they do, it is possible that transmission will decrease rapidly as well.” Radhakrishnan said that most patients with mild, asymptomatic symptoms have been asked to self-isolate at home so that oxygen beds are not unnecessarily occupied and can be left vacant for patients requiring hospitalization.

Tamil Nadu has a total of 185 patients infected with the Omicron variant, of which 179 have been discharged from hospital. Chennai has the highest number of Omicron cases with 115 – all were released after treatment. The Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine on Monday released new guidelines for testing amid the spread of the new variant.

Kolandaswamy is a member of a committee that was formed during the second wave last year to advise the government of Tamil Nadu on preparing for the third wave. “Most of our recommendations to strengthen laboratories, increase oxygen beds and add ambulances have been accomplished. Hospitals won’t see a problem this time around and public hospitals in particular are in a better position, ”he said.


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Divya Chandrababu is an award-winning political and human rights journalist based in Chennai, India. Divya is currently Associate Editor of the Hindustan Times where she covers Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. She started her career as a broadcast journalist at NDTV-Hindu where she anchored and wrote prime-time news bulletins. She later covered politics, development, mental health, children’s rights and people with disabilities for The Times of India. Divya has been a Journalism Fellow for several programs, including the Asia Journalism Fellowship in Singapore and the KAS Media Asia-The Caravan for Narrative Journalism. Divya holds an MA in Politics and International Studies from the University of Warwick, UK. As a freelance journalist, Divya has written for Indian and foreign publications on national and international affairs.
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