Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is now being able to communicate for a few minutes at a time using speakers, the Apollo hospital said on Friday. Jayalalithaa had earlier undergone a tracheostomy, a surgical procedure in which an opening is created in a patient’s trachea to facilitate the flow of air to enable breathing.

Hospital chairperson Dr Prathap Reddy said that Jayalalithaa was now being able to breathe without any support for 90% of the time, NDTV reported. The hospital’s next target is to get the Tamil Nadu chief minister to start walking, Reddy said. “She’s absolutely well,” Reddy said. “She will decide when she will go home.”

On November 19, Jayalalithaa was moved from the intensive care unit to a general ward at the Chennai hospital. The 68-year-old All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief was taken off respiratory support on November 18, party spokesperson C Ponnaiyan said.

On November 14, Jayalalithaa had released her first statement from hospital since she was admitted to the facility for fever and dehydration on September 22. The Tamil Nadu chief minister’s health has been a matter of concern for supporters, despite assurances from Apollo that she is recovering well.