The curious case of three Tamil Nadu districts with zero Covid patients

Ghughuti Bulletin

CHENNAI: The western zone of Tamil Nadu has emerged as a hotspot cluster constituting one-fourth of the total Covid-19 cases in the state. But curiously, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts in the zone have zero positive cases so far. This despite the fact that the two districts are located on the interstate border, considered vulnerable due to large scale cross border migration.

Pudukottai district in the central zone presents a similar picture. Though all its neighbours have positive cases, Pudukottai is seemingly immune to the novel coronavirus, so far. Government officials in the health and revenue departments say it’s a combination of prudent measures and luck. For instance, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts too, like most other parts of the state, had people visiting the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi. But the difference was that a majority of TJ attendees participated in the congregation held in February and not in March, unlike attendees from Coimbatore or Salem.

“Only two out of 16 went to the Delhi gathering in March. We were quick in tracing their identities and informed them to stay back in Delhi. Eventually they tested positive,’’ said Dharmapuri collector S Malarvizhi. The remaining who attended the February congregation were traced and quarantined.

There were scores who returned from abroad as well to Dharmapuri. As many as 668 people, including those from western countries, had returned in March.

“All of them were asymptomatic. We quarantined everyone and they are about to complete their 28-day quarantine,’’ said deputy director of health B R Gemini. In Dharmapuri, 900-odd people have been tested and the results have retuned negative.

Officials in the district, however, admit that not all foreign returnees were tested. In the initial days the instruction was to test only symptomatic people and hence not everyone was tested.

Pudukottai district had 15 people returning from Delhi after participating in the March congregation. “All of them were traced, isolated and tested. They tested negative,’’ said a senior health official in Pudukottai.

Officials in Pudukottai were a little perplexed that their tracing and testing efforts would be questioned since no cases were detected. The health authorities have intensified sample collection and deployed primary health centre staff too. “We have started collecting samples from people with symptoms of influenza like illness and severe acute respiratory illness too,’’ said collector P Umamheswari.

Pudukottai’s neighbours Perambalur and Ariyalur districts too might have joined the league if not for one and two cases respectively.

(With inputs from Sambath Kumar)

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