Chennai: In a quick healing touch, Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Dr Beela Rajesh made clear that this was no time to play fire with any row over a large number participants from the State for the Tablighi Jamaat meet at Nizamuddin in Delhi recently, who tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the overall number of positive cases in the state shot up to 309 on Thursday.
More test results keeps coming in of the samples taken from all the 1,103 identified returnees from Delhi, who self-declared after appeal by the chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, the Health minister Dr C Vijayabaskar and the Health secretary.
74 of the 75 new positive cases yesterday were from the group of persons with 'travel history' to the Jamaat congregation.
All the 1,103 persons have been isolated and quarantined. The only other new case is of a railway doctor in Chennai who tested positive due to 'contact history' with a Covid-19 positive case.
Dr Beela Rajesh told reporters in Chennai yesterday evening after taking stock of the overall situation at the DMS control room, that test results of more returnees from the Delhi meet would be known by Friday.
So far, out of the total of 309 positive cases, 264 were from the group of persons who attended the Delhi conference and the remaining 45 patients were due to 'contact history'.
Taking multiple questions on a controversy sought to be raised over the contribution to the large number of Covid-19 positive cases from Tamil Nadu till date to the participation in the Jamaat conference, Dr Beela Rajesh made clear that this was not the time to play around with such a major public issue. Rather, "we should all wholeheartedly attack (the spread of the new coronavirus)", she said.
Pointing out that the Jamaat meeting in Delhi was not just a sudden one-day event and that it was happening over a period of one month or so, the health secretary said Tamil Nadu did not delay in asking all the returnees from there to self-declare voluntarily in the interests of their families and larger public interest.
"Once, we came to know (of the travel history), we made the appeal; there was no delay," asserted the Health secretary.
Dr Beela Rajesh traced this development to when two of the persons (Islamic clerics) from Thailand (who went to the conference) developed fever and had tested positive.
In all, eight of the positive patients were foreigners including two from Thailand, five from Indonesia and one from Myanmar.
This necessitated tracking travel history of all those who went for the meet and local contact history, if any.
Reiterating that Tamil Nadu was still in stage-II of the disease and expressing the hope that can be contained to avert stage-III (community transmission), Dr Beela Rajesh said with the help of highly qualified medical experts, including a Community Health specialist from the U.S., the State government has worked out the possible "worst case scenario" and working backwards from there to all the requirements that should be in place to avert a crisis.
The health secretary disclosed that now 20 districts in Tamil Nadu have been affected by the Covid-19 and everyone was working round-the-clock to stick to the protocols, including testing, home quarantine, government quarantine, monitoring and treatment of the positive cases in the hospital isolation wards.
Six more lab facilities will be added to the present 17, she added.
As of Thursday, Chennai, Erode, Tirunelveli, Coimbatore, Theni and Namakkal led the number of positive cases, district-wise, in that order with 46,32, 30, 29, 20 and 18 cases respectively.
Board Exam Papers
Meanwhile, the government has postponed the evaluation of State Board Plus-1 and Plus-2 answer sheets from the scheduled April 7, to until further orders.
Across 37 districts of the State, the government has also identified 2,574 higher secondary schools and 3,000 high schools to be quarantine-ready centres should the need arise....