Salem/ Chennai: Even as the total number of positive Covid-19 new coronavirus cases in Tamil Nadu crossed the 1,000-mark on Sunday to a new peak of 1075 cases and the death toll climbed to 11, the state government has decided to foot the entire bill of testing charges by designated private hospitals too.
Disclosing this to reporters here, Health Secretary, Dr Beela Rajesh said Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has decided that the State government will reimburse the entire cost of tests on all patients done by ICMR-recognised private testing labs. Already, testing for Covid-19 virus is done for free by all government testing labs.
"This is a major development today," said the health secretary with the government's focus shifted to "aggressive testing". Apart from the 15 government testing labs including the King Institute, Guindy, National Institute of Virology, Pune, and the testing labs in various government medical college hospitals across Tamil Nadu including Rajiv Gandhi GH in Chennai, she said nine private labs have now been added to this pool.
The private labs where suspected coronavirus patients' samples could be referred to are: Neuberg Ehrlich Chennai, CMC Vellore, YRG CARE Chennai, Microbiology labs Coimbatore, SRMC Chennai, Apollo Chennai and Hitech Diagnostic Centre Chennai, MIOT Chennai, Madras Medical Mission (MMM) microbiology lab, Chennai. These private labs have taken a call on how much they will charge for the tests, but government will pay the bills.
Apart from these, the Centre has also designated Jipmer, Puducherry, as a 'mentor lab' for Tamil Nadu and they will also be testing samples for us. All these will cumulatively help us to test 2,000 samples per day, the health secretary said, adding, 25 testing labs were now at the service of the state.
Stating that the 'aggressive testing' of more samples will include all suspected cases, their primary and secondary contacts within containment zones, and 'SARI (severe acute respiratory infection) cases' among others, Dr Beela Rajesh said the State was well stocked with 'PCR kits', to do the confirmatory rapid RNA tests for the presence of the virus.
At present, Tamil Nadu has 24,000 'PCR kits' and another 10,000 'PCR kits' will come within a week. The Rapid Test Kits (RTK) is only a surveillance tool to do a mass screening test in large epidemiological areas, she said to drive home that non-arrival of the RTKs' was not a setback to the state. Simultaneously, the containment plan (CP) was going on in 34 districts.
On the latest positive Covid-19 cases, Dr. Beela Rajesh said of the 106 confirmed today, 14 had a travel history and the rest were their 'contacts'. In all, 10,655 samples have been tested till date, of which 8,373 samples tested negative. Testing of another 1,027 samples are under process.
Regarding the new Covid-19 death today, which took the total death toll in the State to 11, Dr. Beela Rajesh said it was of a 45-year-old woman who died in the Omandurar super specialty hospital in Chennai last night after efforts to treat her severe respiratory illness was of no avail.
To a question, Dr. Beela Rajesh said, strict instructions have been given to all the hospitals not to keep corona positive and negative patients in the same ward, even if one family. Tamil Nadu among other things, was also researching on a vaccine, she disclosed. Urging everybody's cooperation, she said, "please be strong, you can easily overcome this disease."
Covid +ve patient delivers baby boy
Meanwhile, at the Salem Mohan Kumaramangalam GH, where the number of Covid-19 positive patients under treatment shot up to 18 on Sunday, police were posted in good strength outside the special ward where the 11 Islamic clerics from Indonesia are under treatment. Booked for a case along with their local helpers for violating several laws including Tourist Visa rules, a local court on Sunday remanded them to judicial custody till April 25. In neighbouring Erode district, at the Perundurai GH, a 32-year-old woman who tested positive for coronavirus, gave birth to a baby boy on Sunday. Both mother and child are fine, a health department official said, adding, the child will be tested for coronavirus after two weeks.