Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner G Prakash on Friday (June 26) said that the detection of people with flu-like symptoms has seen a four-fold increase after the ongoing phase of complete lockdown in the city came into force a week ago.
During the pre-lockdown period, Prakash said, about 600-700 symptomatic cases used to be recorded everyday by field personnel and now it has crossed the 3,000 mark for a day.
The June 19-30 lockdown, which is currently in force in Chennai and the adjoining districts of Chengalpet, Kancheepuram, and Tiruvallur, does not allow relaxations previously seen for several businesses, shops and other retailoutlets and only stores selling essentials are permitted from 6 am till 2 pm.
“Yesterday, 3,217 people were found with symptoms (indicating flu-like symptoms) in the door-to-door surveys. The number has now increased to 3,000 (daily average). This may go up to even 3,500,” the civic body chief told reporters.
The reason behind the increase was the availability of people at their homes -in view of the lockdown- when field survey personnel make their daily visits, he said.
The GCC’s health survey personnel visit households on a daily basis, ask people if they have any flu-like symptoms, check body temperature using thermal guns. Pulse oximeters have also been distributed in the city by the GCC to check blood oxygen levels which are used in civic body held medical camps also known as fever clinics/camps.
Early identification of people with symptoms was a big advantage of the lockdown, he said, adding during the 12-day lockdown period if about 30,000 to 40,000 people with symptoms
could be spotted cumulatively, it would be of great help.
Of these people found with flu-like symptoms, “doctors will examine and decide who should be sent for (confirmatory RT-PCR test for coronavirus) testing,” he said.
Out of the approximate 12,000 operationalised beds – with availability of doctors and other personnel- in the Covid Care Centres (CCC), the present occupancy rate is 4,350 and more beds including 5,000 at a Tamil Nadu Housing Board apartment complex were getting ready and 1,500 beds will become functional in a week at the Anna University premises, he said.
The Corporation has kept 17,500 beds ready in 54 CCCs in the city which includes educational institutions and others and about 12,000 have healthcare professionals.
The Corporation has recently launched a Community Intervention Programme,an awareness, case identification, vulnerable population protection and stigma removal
initiative in 1,979 high population density locations in the city to reach 26 lakh people in association with 89 NGOs.
Over 2,300 field level workers are involved in the exercise and during visits they would identify people with co-morbidities and enquire about coronavirus symptoms and refer people to fever camps and urban primary health centres for evaluation by doctors.
In the past one month, 174 awareness programmes have been conducted, Prakash said, adding that skits, puppet shows and other communication strategies like putting up informative banners, posters were also being used.
Outreach workers follow up families on a daily basis and the effort has helped detect symptomatic cases early.
(With inputs from agencies)