The number of COVID-19 infections in Erode and Salem districts saw a steady increase last week, bucking a declining trend in other parts of Tamil Nadu such as Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai, a media report said on Tuesday.
Erode reported 1,555, 1,642, 1,699, 1,731 and 1,742 positive cases from May 25 to May 29, while Salem registered 928, 841, 929 and 1,492 on four of those days, according to official data.
The Salem administration carried out 1,142 tests on average in March, sources told The News Minute website. In May it conducted 5,820 tests; currently, around 7,000 people are being tested per day, the sources told TNM.
As of May 30, more than 4.81 lakh people have been vaccinated in district, TNM said, without specifying if the figure represented those who had received a single dose or both doses.
Imran Khan, a resident of Thumbal panchayat in Salem, told TNM the administration was yet to tighten restrictions – set up containment zones, for example – despite the rise in cases.
“Sometimes hundreds of people turn up for a funeral. In some cases, it is later found that the deceased had COVID-19,” he said.
Many villagers choose not to go to hospital when they fall sick, Khan said.
“The surge can be pointed to several factors: Lack of understanding and seriousness in rural Tamil Nadu, flouting of COVID-19 regulations, people gathering for weddings and funerals,” another resident told TNM.
The sources said there were 7,330 Covishield and 4,450 Covaxin shots in stock in the district. There were 1,100 oxygen beds in Salem GH and 500 new oxygen beds at the district steel plant. Another 500 oxygen beds will soon be available.
Despite posting higher numbers than Salem, the number of tests being conducted at Erode is lower, according to the report.
The district is currently testing 5,000 to 7,000 people per day. As of May 28, Erode had vaccinated 2 lakh people above 45 years and 38,000 people in the 18-45 category. TNM again did not mention whether these residents had received one shot or both.
There are currently 1,560 oxygen beds in Erode, of which 910 are at the government medical college and 250 at Erode GH. Other government and private facilities have around 400 beds, the sources said.
“To contain the spread of the virus, we have employed one person for every 100 households, that is for 7 lakh ration card holders in the district. The employee will monitor the affected persons and stop them from flouting COVID-19 protocols,” an official said.
“Every evening, we hold debriefing sessions with the employees on the ground so that necessary measures can be taken. In a week, the cases will start to reduce.”