Chennai count rising, TN ropes in volunteers to check spread in slums

Chennai count rising, TN ropes in volunteers to check spread in slums

With Chennai accounting for over 62 per cent Covid-19 cases in Tamil Nadu, the state government has formed a team of over 2,500 volunteers to assist the more than 30,000 health workers fighting the outbreak in the city.

Most cases in Chennai have been reported from slum areas and congested neighbourhoods. The new plan focuses on these localities and aims to make government communication effective and to ensure passive surveillance of each household.

Till Thursday, Chennai reported 8,893 Covid-19 cases and 66 deaths. With a population density of over 25,000 per square kilometres, the testing rate in the city is 12,673 samples per million against the state rate of 4,070 and the national rate of 1,821.

J Radhakrishnan, nodal officer in charge of coordinating containment measures in Chennai city region, said local residents have been engaged as volunteers with the help of NGOs for effective communication. “We are taking all safety measures for the protection of these volunteers. These volunteers will be familiar with the local areas and the people in our focus areas. This is to essentially bring in a behavioural change in people in their response to an infection.”

“There are very small houses with up to 10 members in each house. In one of the houses I visited in a containment area, 11 members had tested positive and eight of them are back home after treatment. These are the focus areas where we are concentrating more to contain the infection,” he said.

He said the containment measures are focused on Royapuram, Tondiarpet and Thiru Vi Ka Nagar owing to the high number of cases there. “Of 200 corporation wards, at least 150 are seeing a decline in the number of cases or have been declared zero case areas. The remaining 30 to 50 wards need real attention, especially slum pockets in these areas,” he said.

The teams of volunteers will be collecting data from the slum areas. “A total of 166 supervisors and 100 programme managers and 100 data managers will be leading each team,” said a corporation official.

The teams have been tasked with monitoring households, collecting data and counselling people to follow physical distancing besides ensuring availability of masks and distributing herbal drinks and multivitamin tablets.