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Since reopening, 400 TN schoolchildren tested Covid positive: Health secy

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: Around 400 students have tested positive for Covid-19 since the resumption of physical classes for class 9, 10, 11, and 12 since September 1. Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said the situation has been contained effectively so far, but the health department is keeping a tab on the situation ‘with fingers crossed’.

Speaking at a webinar organised by the UNICEF and Press Institute of India, on the topic “Back to School: Challenges and Opportunities”, on Thursday, Radhakrishnan said with the reopening of schools, students have started testing positive, but the situation is not alarming yet. Most of the cases are sporadic and isolated, he said.

“Earlier this year, schools in Thanjavur were identified as Covid clusters. Fortunately, the situation is not the same now,” the secretary said, adding that the decision to reopen schools was a calibrated move, taken on the basis of views from the expert committee, which included members like Chief Scientist of World Health Organisation (WHO), Sowmya Swaminathan.

The committee felt it was necessary to reopen schools for the mental health of students. “However, the situation is being monitored closely by the education and health departments, and is being reviewed at the highest level by the CM  himself,” said Radhakrishnan. K Lakshminarasimha Rao, chief (social policy), UNICEF Chennai, expressed concern over the decline in fundamental learning ability among students due to closure of schools for almost 18-odd months. 

He suggested that institutes should go for a long-term remedy, such as a 1,000-day plan to brush up learnings, and train teachers to deal with students in a better way. Paediatricians Dr Benny Benjamin and Dr Ravi Chandran provided some relief to the parents by stating that the much-anticipated third wave won’t affect children much. Social activist Sudha Umashankar highlighted that the students’ mental health should be taken care of. Lawyer Sanjay Pinto moderated the event.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Ma Subramanian, speaking at a different occasion, said TN  will hold its third mega vaccination camp this Sunday. A total of 20,000 camps, with an aim to cover 15 lakh population, will be conducted. There were no vaccines for the last couple days, but the State received five lakh doses on Wednesday, and 14 lakh more doses were expected on Thursday. 

CM to launch doorstep healthcare service at RGGGH
Chennai: CM MK Stalin will launch ‘Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam’, the doorstep healthcare service, at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital on Friday. The scheme, which is being implemented in rural areas, will now be extended to all GHs, and people above 18 coming to GHs, will be covered, said Health Minister Ma Subramanian. “The aim is to cover one crore population by the end of this year,” he said. 

16 students test positive in kovai
Coimbatore: A total of 16 students of a private girls’ school in Coimbatore tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday. The school was closed and the management has announced that it would reopen on October 1. Officials said all students who tested positive were asymptomatic. Speaking to TNIE, Collector GS Sameeran said, “Most of the students are asymptomatic. We cannot entirely prevent the spread, but, are taking steps to control it.”

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