Third COVID-19 wave has started in Tamil Nadu: Health Minister

Infection has been rising incrementally, says Ma. Subramanian.

The third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has started in Tamil Nadu, Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said in Chennai on January 2.

“The infection is spreading. In the past few days, it has been rising incrementally,” he said, citing the number of fresh cases in the State, while inspecting the 17th mega vaccination camp.

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Though Chennai continued to lead the State in vaccination, more than five lakh persons had not yet received even one dose of the vaccine, he said.

Of the 33.22 lakh students aged 15-18 for whom vaccination would be launched at Manthoppu Government Girls Higher Secondary School at Saidapet on Monday, 26 lakh would be covered through the local bodies, with support from the School Education and Higher Education Departments, he said.

Of the four lakh engineering students, 46% had received the first dose and 12% the second dose.

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With the Union government modifying the protocol for hospital admission, those infected after completing the two-dose regimen would henceforth be advised home quarantine. Persons with symptoms would be admitted to COVID-19 Care Centres and those with serious health conditions alone would be hospitalised, Mr. Subramanian said.

Currently those infected with the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus undergo swab tests on the third day of admission to hospital and again on the fifth day. If they test negative both times, they are discharged and advised treatment at home.

The Health Department has proposed a protocol followed by the United Kingdom. Under it, patients with the Omicron variant are monitored virtually. They are provided with pulse oximeter and told to jot down their oxygen levels in a notebook. If the level falls below 92, they are advised to visit hospital. “We are monitoring the situation, and if cases increase, those fully vaccinated, if infected, will be brought under such a system of surveillance. A district-level committee of health officials will monitor the patients virtually,” he said.

More beds

He said the Health Department had put up 100 beds at Injambakkam and Manjambakkam. At Chennai Trade Centre, it was proposed to put up 800 beds, and housing board facilities would have 2,000 beds. On Monday, the Higher Education Department and the Director of Collegiate Education would hold a meeting to get the hostels vacated and beds installed there.

Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi said there are 4.59 lakh students in the 15-18 age group that must be vaccinated. The civic body opened telephone numbers that would operate round the clock at Ripon Building. People under home quarantine could dial 044-25384520 and 044-46122300 for assistance from doctors, Mr. Bedi said.

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