The administration is exploring the idea of localised lockdowns in and around heavy clusters of COVID-19 cases across the region as a containment strategy, given the sharp increase in the number of patients.

With the governmment clearly not in favour of a harsh lockdown strategy at the moment — Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy on Monday ruled out an extended lockdown after chairing a meeting of the Disaster Management Committee — the Health Department is mooting a proposal to freeze areas where cases are high.

“We have identified about five areas where the number of cases is high, though a final call on areas to be sealed off will be on the guidance of the war room of the disaster management committee,” said Health Director S. Mohan Kumar.

The war room will also stipulate the nature of restrictions to be implemented, he said.

This would mark the return of a more aggressive, though more selectively deployed, COVID-19 response strategy. While in the early phase of the pandemic spread in April, entire neighbourhoods had been cordoned off even on the detection of a single case, the strategy was later changed to isolate only the affected households plus the two flanking units, and now only the affected household unit is isolated.

“Our COVID-19 response so far has been to strike a balance between effective containment and minimising disruption of life and livelihood,” Chief Secretary Ashwani Kumar said. “Localised lockdowns could provide the best outcome in the circumstances where it can serve as a deterrent tool to shake off complacency without any largescale disturbance to public life,” he said.

Going by the Department of Revenue and Disaster Management Committee’s status report, as of Monday, there were 143 containment zones in the city and suburbs and four to five zones with large clusters of COVID-19 cases in the region.

By revenue village, Saram had the highest number of containment zones (55), followed by Thattanchavady (37), Reddiarpalayam (25), Oulgaret (12) and Karuvadikuppam (11). On Tuesday, the zones had come down to 99, with Saram having 34, Thattanchavady 32 and Reddiarpalayam 10.

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