'People in 18-45 age group accounted for 51% of spike in cases'

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Chennai, Mar 28 (PTI) People in the 18-45 age group accounted for 51 per cent of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu and were mostly from apartment complexes, state health secretary J Radhakrishnan said here on Sunday.

The government was focussing on the 'test, track and treat' plan and increased testing of samples to contain the spread, he told reporters after inspecting additional COVID-19 beds at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital here.

Radhakrishnan said that besides this age group, 42 per cent of those infected were those aged above 45 years.

'Fifty one per cent of people between the age group of 18 and 45 years have tested positive, while 42 per cent were those above the age of 45 years are infected.

He said the issue was that those in the 18-45 age group who have tested positive go back to their homes and spread it to the elderly.

Also, though colleges had been shut, some students had spread it to others, he said.

He said five districts ---Chennai, Chengalpet, Coimbatore, Thanjavur and Tiruvarur-- accounted for the most number of infections since March 5.

On increased testing, he said the number of specimens being examined now was 95,000 a day, up from 85,000.

He said there was some 'laxity' among booth level monitoring officers at containment zones, but these had been identified and necesssary orders issued to tighten efforts.

'The health and revenue departments and local administration identified some laxity among a few booth level monitoring officers and have tightened the efforts, particularly in containment zones,' he said Radhakrishnan said efforts taken till now had reduced the spread of the virus to below one per cent and these efforts should not be wasted due to any laxity.

Under the 'test, track and treat' plan, officials have been asked to take up testing of samples, track those who have tested positive and treat them for a speedy recovery, he said.

Reiterating that the spread of the virus can be contained with people's cooperation, he cautioned people, especially in Chennai, Coimbatore, Chengalpet and Tiruvarur districts,which have reported a high number of infections, to extend support to the government in helping control the spread of the virus.

'That is our appeal. If people do not want a situation like in Aurangabad, Mumbai, Pune, they should extend support to the government, ' he said.

Asked about the possibility of imposing a lockdown, he said a core committee has been formed, comprising of senior government officials, including himself, which would analyse the impact of the virus.

'The committee will submit its report to the Chief Secretary (Rajeev Ranjan) to take necessary decisions' He suggested that companies, particularly in the services sector, follow work from home culture, while industries employ less manpower to avoid large gatherings.

Radhakrishnan said what was of comfort to know was that the number of cases and samples tested per day had come down from 6,000 and 60,000 in July last year, to 2,000 infections and around 90,000 specimens being examined at present.

However, the worrying factor is the rapid increase in cases in just three months this year, from 450 a day (in January) to over 2,000 at present, he said. PTI VIJ APR ADMINISTRATOR ADMINISTRATOR