Ever wondered why the daily number of cases in Chennai is high as compared to all other districts, when the state health department releases its regular updates on COVID data? This is because Chennai along with Mumbai has the same COVID-19 positivity rate of 18 per cent. Positivity rate is the percentage of COVID-19 cases turning positive to the number of cases tested.
This must be a worrying sign for the Chennai Corporation and the health department, as they must organise beds to accommodate those who need medical support. Tamil Nadu’s positivity rate is 4 per cent compared to Chennai’s 18 per cent.
“In the first wave, it took nearly three and a half months for the number to double as the positivity rate was 3 per cent, when the virus started to spread and touched 21 per cent at the peak. But, in the second wave, it has taken only 45 days as the positivity rate in February was 3 per cent but it has touched 18 per cent now,” said COVID Data Analyst Vijayanand. At this rate, we may have 50,000 active cases in Chennai in a week or so, he said.
The stress caused by the higher positivity rate in Chennai will fall on the Corporation and hospitals in and around the city and suburbs. “We are waiting for the new COVID protocol for the second wave to be released. Government is yet to issue the new protocol since more youngsters are being infected in this second wave,” said a senior Corporation official.
In the next few days, Chennai hospitals – both in public and private – may see a spike in the demand for beds. “For every positive case, not less than six contacts are being traced and all six are turning out to be positive. This is contrary to what happened last year, when for one positive case, there was just one symptomatic case,” said the official.
The analyst cites two main reasons for the rapid doubling of cases in Chennai. “The cases are spreading fast in Chennai due to the presence of a new mutation, for which genome sequencing is happening in the UK. In India, we are yet to do genome sequencing of this mutation. Election campaigns are the second reason for the spike,” asserted Vijayanand.
The way out for citizens of Chennai city is to mask up and also get the vaccine jab as early as possible. “The good news is that in the last one week the percentage of cases in the age group of above 40 years has started declining. This must be due to vaccination and people wearing masks,” said Vijayanand.
“The US and other countries are now recommending double masks or N95 types of masks to prevent being infected. Chennai citizens must also use double masks to avoid getting infected. Also, all citizens must definitely get the vaccine jab as early as possible and this will also protect us,” said Vijayanand.