Tamil Nadu

COVID-19: Here’s what Tamil Nadu has been doing since January

The Chennai Corporation is engaging vehicles to carry out infection-control measures in public places

The Chennai Corporation is engaging vehicles to carry out infection-control measures in public places   | Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

The State’s response revolves around three strategies: delaying the entry of the virus, preventing transmission and hospital/community preparedness

Tamil Nadu’s Directorate of Public Health set off measures to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in mid-January. What has been the State’s strategy from then? Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine K. Kolandaswamy has the answers.

The State’s COVID-19 prevention and control measures revolve around three strategies.

“The first strategy was to prevent the entry or delay the entry of the virus in the State, region and district. This was done through thermal and clinical screening of passengers travelling from affected countries. Hand sanitisation immediately after disembarking from aircrafts followed by home quarantine for 28 days, which is double the infection period. Persons with symptoms are being admitted to isolation wards in hospitals,” he said.

The next strategy is to prevent the transmission of the infection. For this, the Directorate has been repeatedly insisting on respiratory hygiene: remaining at home if someone has a cough, sneezing and fever, and covering faces with handkerchiefs while coughing or sneezing, and washing hands with soap and water.

“Surface hygiene is something that we have been stressing for a long time. It is important to disinfect areas frequently touched by hands such as door handles, handrails of staircases, escalators, seats, arm rests, table surfaces, lifts and ticket counters with disinfectant such as hydrochlorite solution,” he said.

The third strategy is hospital and community preparedness. It is here that isolation rooms, personal protective equipment and protocol training for doctors and nurses comes in. “Each activity has its own value. Surface cleaning, respiratory hygiene practices and hand hygiene are the ultimate solution. Remember, complex problems have simple solutions,” he said.

Dr. Kolandaswamy said that the second strategy was crucial to prevent person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. “Only Japan, Singapore and Tamil Nadu have been following this from the start. Unfortunately, many other countries rely only on the first and third strategies,” he said.

Infection control, quarantine and treatment -- all three are crucial factors. “We have started massive disinfection measures using 1% hypochlorite solution. The Chennai Corporation, for instance, is engaging big vehicles to carry out infection-control measures in public places,” he said.

A senior health official said while the clampdown would help in delaying a further spread of the virus to new areas and help prevent community spread, other measures such as respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene and disinfection of public places, transport and hospitals should be followed vigorously.

“India has managed to delay the outbreak by more than two months. China did not curb COVID-19 with a clampdown alone. It took up massive disinfection from the third week of February that brought down the cases in March. So, a lockdown will help in delaying the spread. Japan and Singapore successfully controlled COVID-19 due to tracing of travel history and epidemiological links. They meticulously followed respiratory hygiene, handwashing and surface cleaning,” he said.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 9:41:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/covid-19-heres-what-tamil-nadu-has-been-doing-since-january/article31161945.ece

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