12/05/2020 4:30 PM IST | Updated 12/05/2020 4:32 PM IST

Record Spike In Tamil Nadu's Coronavirus Cases, State Wants To Change How It Counts Death Toll

The state reported six deaths on Monday, the highest in a day so far.

ARUN SANKAR via Getty Images
Health officials check the documents of a citizen evacuated from Dubai by an Air India flight at the Anna International Airport in Chennai on May 9, 2020.

Tamil Nadu and Chennai reported the biggest spike in new COVID-19 patients on Monday, with 798 new cases reported in the state of which 538 were in the capital.

This brings the total count of confirmed cases in Tamil Nadu to 8002, the third highest in the country.

The surge of cases in Chennai’s brought the city’s total to 4,371 confirmed cases, of which 3,632 patients are under treatment. (See list of containment zones in Tamil Nadu here.)

A health official told The Hindu that the increase in cases in Chennai was due to a number of clusters. “Chennai has cases from the Koyambedu cluster, front line workers cluster, hospital cluster and mediapersons cluster. Royapuram, Thiru Vi Ka Nagar, Kodambakkam and Teynampet are the four highly-affected zones in the city,” he said.

The state also reported six deaths on Monday, the highest thus far. However, according to the Mint Covid Tracker, the Tamil Nadu still had one of the lowest fatalities rates among states in India at 0.7%

Fatality rate notwithstanding, the state government wants to change the way it counts the deaths due to coronavirus.

“Most people who died of the viral infection in Tamil Nadu had severe co-morbidities. We don’t know what killed them,” health secretary Beela Rajesh told Times of India. “Some of our patients had additional risk factors. They were above 80 years of age or were obese.”

The state is hoping protocols for reporting such deaths will be changed.

This is similar to the argument the West Bengal government made when the discrepancy in its death toll was noted.

The World Health Organization’s guidelines for classification of death due to COVID-19 includes counting of patients who died with comorbidities.

Experts have said counting the death toll incorrectly can affect our understanding of the disease’s seriousness.

Reopening businesses in the state

Private sector firms and 34 types of businesses reopened on Monday in non-containment zones of Tamil Nadu after being shut for 47 days due to lockdown.

With the opening of private sector companies and retail outlets, vehicular traffic and movement of people on roads saw a consequential increase in most parts of the state, including rural regions, the state capital and other major cities including Coimbatore, Madurai, and Tiruchirappalli, PTI reported.

Two-wheeler and car sales and service showrooms also resumed work. Private firms opened with reduced workforce of 33% across the state.

The government extended the closure timing for groceries and vegetable shops from the present 5 pm till 7 pm effective Monday throughout the state. These outlets started work from 6 am as usual.

In the video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other state chief ministers, Chief Minister K Palaniswami came out against resumption of air and train services till May 31 citing rising COVID-19 cases in the state.