CHENNAI: With 532 new cases being reported in Chennai on Tuesday, highest since November 17, health officials said the city is witnessing a spike in both the number of clusters and their size.
On March 13, 15 people from four families had tested positive, while on March 17, there were 28 positive cases from eight clusters.
On Monday, officials found 40 positive cases from three branches of AGS Health Private limited and 25 cases from other clusters.
Last week, nearly a dozen people from a private bank tested positive for the viral infection.
“We continue to see clusters at homes after luncheons, parties, weddings and funerals. But when people take infection to their workplaces, the cluster can become huge,” said director of public health Dr TS Selvavinayagam.
“When people sit in a closed environment, particularly air-conditioned rooms for long hours in close proximity, the chances of infection spreading is high. Masks and social distance can reduce the burden,” he said.
The rising clusters have led to spike in average number of fresh cases reported in the city over the past few weeks.
Between February 12 and 18, the city reported an average of 144 cases a day, and the following week the number rose to 152. In the week between March 12 and March 18, there were about 362 fresh cases a day.
During that week, the city added 2,288 new cases and reported 17 deaths. In the last five days, the city has already surpassed last week’s total. Between March 19 and March 23, the city has reported 2,373 cases and 15 deaths.
The trend reminded officials of Covid-19 cases in May last year, when teams were tracking clusters from several streets in North Chennai and the city was under a strict lockdown.
On an average, the city corporation tracks down at least 30 close contacts of every positive patient.
“If there is one person tested positive, we speak to family, colleagues and friends who have been in close contact with them. If clusters and cases are large, it means the health staff must track down more people and ensure they are tested,” said a senior health department official of the Greater Chennai Corporation. “We test about 30 people for every positive case. Active cases have increased in almost all zones,” he said.
On Tuesday, zonal health officials have asked commercial establishments and factories to do thermal scanning for all staff. Those showing symptoms of viral infection should be asked to go for a test.
The company should ask their staff to always wear masks and maintain social distance.
“Staff, who are eligible for vaccination, should be encouraged to take the shot. Unlike last year, we have an effective vaccine that can prevent complications and deaths. We must use it,” Dr Selva Vinayagam said.