The results of Tamil Nadu’s fight against Covid is surprising many. Tamil Nadu was one of the worst-hit states around mid-April, with the largest numbers after Maharashtra and with 37 of its 38 districts reporting coronavirus, Tamil Nadu has since turned a corner.
With a similar population as Gujarat, it has nearly half its cases and one-eighth its deaths. Just five-six districts are now reporting cases, while Coimbatore, which once had the most patients, has had no fresh cases for about a week. What has helped the state keep the numbers relatively low , after a sudden surge, is its health network. Starting from welfare policies in the 1950s, and despite bitter transfers of power between parties, the state has in place a system of quality and affordable healthcare.
The inter-ministerial team sent by the Centre that visited Tamil Nadu observed on Thursday that its recovery rate was “very good”, with 54% of patients. Its case fatality rate, of 1.2%, is also less than half the country’s (around 3%). The state has 25 government medical colleges with another 11 being built in districts. Its Maternal Mortality Rate is 16, against Andhra Pradesh’s 32 and Gujarat’s 30, for example, while its Infant Mortality Rate stands at 2, compared to Andhra’s and Gujarat’s 13 and 11, respectively. Neighbouring Kerala may be the only state better than it on these vital indicators.
Like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, which has a huge diaspora in Southeast Asia, was among the first to start screening passengers arriving at airports. But state has 109 cases which are still a worry, as their source of infection has not been traced.