The Greater Chennai Corporation has stopped providing zonal-level data on COVID-19 cases, recoveries and deaths, which it was releasing on a daily basis through social media platforms.
Arguing that the data provided earlier was helpful, a section of academics and users of social media, who were following the data closely, have appealed to the civic body to resume releasing the information.
Ever since the first wave of COVID-19, the Corporation was providing zonal-level data everyday through its social media platforms, which remained the only regular source of such data from the civic body. This data also included age group and the gender-wise breakdown of cases.
However, on July 16, the civic body switched to a different reporting format, in which the zonal-level data on recoveries and deaths were removed, along with the age group and gender-wise breakdowns. Instead, the new format only had the fresh cases reported from each zone.
This new format, however, was stopped two days later. Since July 19, the Corporation has not released any data on COVID-19 except for the total number of people vaccinated. The bulletin released by the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the State-level, which includes the overall data for the city, is the only source of information at the moment.
R. Rajaraman, professor, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, who raised the issue on Twitter, said it was unfortunate that the Corporation chose to cut down on the zonal-level data, and appealed for the resumption of the release of at least the zonal-level cases, recoveries and deaths.
T.S. Ganesan, professor, medical oncology and clinical research, Cancer Institute (WIA), another keen follower of the data, stressed on the need for such data to be easily available in the public domain.
Highlighting that the data was detailed and useful, R. Shankar, honorary professor, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, pointed out that the extent of the spread of COVID-19 varied between the city’s zones, and such granular data helped in analysing the patterns.
“The data helps in informing people about the spread of COVID-19 in their respective areas,” he said. Moreover, he said it was useful for academics like himself in data analysis, which could help in understanding and tackling the pandemic better. He said he presumed that it would not be a significant effort for the Corporation to resume providing such data.
Pointing out that the Corporation had been trying out different reporting formats in recent days, a senior official reiterated that they had been transparent with COVID-19 related information, and assured that the zonal-level data would be made available on a daily basis henceforth.