Chennai, Mar 11 (PTI) Tamil Nadu clocked 685 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, pushing the aggregate to 8.57 lakh, while five more deaths took the toll to 12,535, the health department said.
Recoveries remained comparatively less with 543 people getting discharged, taking the cumulative number to 8,40,723 leaving 4,344 active cases, a department bulletin said.
With rise in new cases, the health department said on the lines of a flying squad involved in poll related work, the government was planning for one that who would check whether people who visit popular places adhere to COVID-19 norms such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
Chennai accounted for the bulk of new infections with 292 cases, aggregating to 2,38,007 till date.
The metropolis also leads in the number of fatalities with 4,174.
Chennai recorded three deaths and Chengalpet two.
Testing of samples which was around 50,000 a day, increased to 65,945 on Thursday, taking the total specimens examined to 1.80 crore so far.
As many as 25 districts reported fresh infections in single digits, while Coimbatore logged 52 cases, Chengalpet 51, Thiruvallur 49.
Among those who tested positive today include seven returnees from the United Arab Emirates, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, the bulletin said.
Meanwhile, state Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan, who has been taking up surprise inspections to check whether people conform to standard operating procedures inspected at the Chennai Central Railway Station and directed officials to collect spot fines from those people who were not seen wearing a mask.
Speaking to reporters, he said the government was planning to depute a flying squad, similar to the one engaged in poll related work, to check whether people follow the SOP in order to prevent the spread of virus.
Earlier, there was formation of 'function based (COVID- 19) clusters' in Tamil Nadu.
Now, the spread of the virus, has been more in places like housing societies, private functions, he noted.
Another mistake people commit is by not notifying the corporation staff if they test positive for the virus, the senior health official said.
Second, even after undergoing test at a private lab, people prefer home quarantine.
But, already eight people would have contracted the contagion from that individual.
He urged people to come forward and use government facilities as they have necessary infrastructure.
On the vaccination drive, he said the government has been receiving good response from the public and on Thursday hotel associations, auto and taxi operators assured him of taking the jab.
Reiterating his point that the rise in new cases was a 'warning bell', he said, '2021 will not be like last year since we have vaccination this year.
'However, we should not allow the virus to spread again and then take measures to control it,' he said.
'There have been a lot of deaths in a day due to the virus (last year), but today five deaths have been reported (due to COVID-19).
If we had followed the protocols like wearing masks and maintaining social distances, we can avoid even those five deaths..,' he added. PTI VIJ ROH ROH