Tamil Nadu

Lockdown will help step up surveillance, treatment: Chief Secretary

The current 12-day complete lockdown in Chennai and parts of Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram was implemented to actively identify cases, undertake surveillance and conduct aggressive testing for COVID-19, thereby providing some “breathing space” for the government to ramp up health facilities to handle more cases, if need be, Chief Secretary K. Shanmugam said on Wednesday.

However, a decision on extending the complete lockdown will be taken only after health experts meet the Chief Minister on June 29 and provide their inputs, he told The Hindu. The State’s strategy, however, is clear and this type of a stringent lockdown is a “short-term strategy”. District Collectors have been instructed to go in for the “containment strategy”, wherever the disease is spreading, he said.

“The current lockdown is supported by a very clear strategy of early and active identification of COVID-19 cases and bringing the affected persons for treatment. We are now undertaking active searches, using the lockdown for better surveillance. Aggressive door-to-door testing is being carried out to look for symptomatic cases,” Mr. Shanmugam said.

The complete lockdown framework was necessary as there was a spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases in Chennai, and the infection was spreading to other districts.

“This lockdown is like a surgical operation. It is only for an emergency situation. Our strategy is very clear — we will relax the lockdown norms, step by step, and we will fight the disease, simultaneously. We are confident about managing both,” he added.

‘Breathing time’

“We now have enough breathing time and our health infrastructure is robust. Several care centres are being set up and oxygen facilities are being ramped up in many places. We are prepared to handle more cases. We are also advising the use of pulse oximeters during COVID-19 testing, so that if somebody is showing signs of lower oxygen levels, they can be immediately admitted,” he said.

The Chief Secretary, however, expressed concern about people not revealing symptoms, and said that those with symptoms must come forward so that they can be treated in the initial stages itself.

Collectors have been advised to go in for a containment strategy in the long term, as the government is clear about economic activities having to start. People’s livelihoods need to be taken care of, he said. “We have instructed them to go in for containment and control in areas where the infection is present. This complete lockdown cannot continue forever,” he added.

Mr. Shanmugam said there was a misconception that lockdown meant that everything needed to remain shut.

“Lockdown is a framework under which relaxations are given step by step. At every stage, we are offering some relaxations. In the last stage, we will provide relaxations for public meetings, gatherings and opening of theatres. That will be done only when we know that we do not have to worry about the virus and there is some level of immunity,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 7:54:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/lockdown-will-help-step-up-surveillance-treatment/article31909946.ece

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