CHENNAI: While the total number of persons testing positive for Covid-19, novel coronavirus, peaked to 11,760 on Monday amid marginal fluctuations in the day-wise scenario, Tamil Nadu Health Minister, Dr C Vijayabaskar asserted there was no cut in the number of samples tested.
Meanwhile, one notable group of cases in Chennai on Monday was about 150 vegetable traders in MGR Market being asked to check for Covid-19 after two among them had tested positive for the virus.
With three more deaths confirmed on Monday, the death toll due to the virus went up to 81, even as on a single day the State saw 536 patients testing positive for the virus, including 364 cases in Chennai alone. Both these numbers were lower than Sunday's, but passengers returning from other states, notably Maharashtra, added 46 more positive cases today.
Refuting DMK leader M K Stalin's criticisms that Tamil Nadu has reduced the number of persons tested per-day for the virus when the actual number of positive cases are surging every day, the minister told reporters here that the opposition leader was misinformed and his charges baseless.
He said Mr. Stalin had referred to only 8,220 samples of patients being lifted for testing for Covid-19 on May 16, but the actual number of tests done was 10,583 that day. There is no daily target for number of tests and lifting of samples for testing is done driven by the day's necessity, he said.
Stating that all sorts of suspected coronavirus cases were being tested daily including 'SARI' (severe acute respiratory infections) cases, Dr Vijayabaskar said so far since February 1, Tamil Nadu has tested 3,37,841 samples (even if some of them are repeat tests) so far.
The ten-day average for tests in the State came to 12,530. There may be slight variations both ways on a day-to-day basis, but even the Centre has appreciated that "we are doing the maximum testing (for any State) with 61 laboratories now involved in it," the minister explained.
"With total dedication, the government machinery is fully involved to control the Covid-19 spread," Dr Vijayabaskar said, adding, the State was geared to meet the challenges posed by the latest evolving cluster - passengers travelling into Tamil Nadu from abroad and other states, after the Delhi conference returnees and the Koyembedu market episode.
Expressing surprise that Mr. Stalin had not taken note of the fact that Tamil Nadu had consistently ensured the lowest mortality rate due to coronavirus in the entire country, Dr Vijayabaskar said the DMK leader trying to shift the blame on the state or malign the government under the pretext of a critical review was unacceptable.
If Mr. Stalin had any 'constructive suggestion', it was welcome, but "we are proceeding in the right direction in containing and controlling the coronavirus spread," the Health minister added.