TAMIL NADU

U.T. records 21 deaths in a week, 1,676 new cases since August 1

Rising numbers:The Union Territory saw 1,166 institutional admissions in a span of seven days.T. Singaravelou

Rising numbers:The Union Territory saw 1,166 institutional admissions in a span of seven days.T. Singaravelou  

In the worst week yet since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Puducherry has recorded 21 deaths and a total of 1,676 new cases since August 1.

While the number of deaths, which were 49 a week ago, climbed to 70 — five deaths were recorded on Thursday, the case load has also shot up from 3,593 at the start of the month to a total of 4,621 cases now.

Fresh admissions scaled a peak on Wednesday with 286 new cases reported across the Union Territory even as the positivity rate has also touched a new high of 27.9% during the period. The case fatality rate, though, has been steady at the 1.4% mark.

Increased testing

Officials attribute the higher number of cases to the increased testing being done in the recent days. Close to 1,000 samples are being tested every day now, which is more than thrice the average about a month ago.

As many as 2,808 COVID-19 patients have been treated and discharged, including 129 patients on Thursday. So far, 44,158 samples have been tested, 38,854 of which were negative and the results of 224 are awaited.

“While flattening of the curve may be the ideal goal, the highly contagious nature of the virus makes it difficult to completely stop its spread. The trace-test-treat mantra is the only viable method under the circumstances and so far we have been able to keep case fatalities at 1.4%,” Chief Secretary Ashwani Kumar said.

The administration is not particularly in favour of complete/partial lockdowns as a response.

“We have studied the experience of some other States, which resorted to varying degrees of lockdowns even after the Centre unlocked activities. The trade-off of locking people indoors is the immense loss of livelihood in an already ravaged informal economy,” the Chief Secretary said.

Apart from augmenting health and manpower capacity, the administration is focusing on public messaging to raise awareness of safety protocols.

‘Vulnerable segment’

“The elderly population with co-morbidities is the most vulnerable segment, apart from children under 10 years. So, it is not good enough that they stay safe at home. The onus is on other younger members in multi-generational households to take extra precautions to prevent household transmission,” said S. Mohan Kumar, Director of Health Services.

From case fatality data, the high-risk groups have been identified as those with diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease and respiratory illnesses. “The worst-off are those with a combination of diabetes, hypertension and obesity,” Dr. Mohan Kumar said.

Meanwhile, in a bid to shore up bed capacity for needy COVID-19 patients, the Health Department has changed strategy by confining asymptomatic-to-mildly symptomatic patients under home isolation.

The Union Territory saw 1,166 institutional admissions in a span of seven days. As of Thursday, there were 510 patients under home confinement, in addition to the 1,743 patients in institutional care.

While Puducherry has been accounting for the bulk of the new cases, the uptick in infections in the Yanam and Karaikal enclaves, where facilities for institutional care are severely constricted, is a cause for worry for health authorities.

According to updated data, the case load is 1,013 in Puducherry, 97 in Karaikal and 119 in Yanam.

The Union Territory saw 1,166 institutional admissions in a span of seven days

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