Sunday lockdown brings Tamil Nadu to a standstill

Chennai: Tamil Nadu came to a virtual standstill under an intense ‘Sunday lockdown’ to help fight COVID-19 as people stayed indoors, vehicles stayed off the roads and markets and shops were shut down.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami, meanwhile, announced extension of intense lockdown in Madurai and nearby regions including the Paravai Town Panchayat and several village panchayats till July 14.

While roads were deserted, only police and health personnel could be spotted and hospitals, labs, ambulance services and pharmacies alone worked as per government directives.

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Today is the second successive Sunday of implementation of ‘intense lockdown without any relaxations’ across the state and such curbs will be observed on two more Sundays this month.

The state-wide intense lockdown is part of measures initiated by the government to help battle COVID-19.

Major urban centres, Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchirappalli besides semi-urban and rural regions witnessed a complete lull.

Health workers, however, continued their routine of door-to-door checks to ascertain if people had flu-like symptoms in Chennai and several other parts of Tamil Nadu.

Sanitary personnel of civic bodies carried on with their work of cleaning up and disinfecting roads, streets, bus stations, markets and other locations frequented by the people.

In Chennai, mist cannons which are huge blowers mounted on trucks, went around several neighbourhoods spraying disinfectant fumes and in containment zones, in addition to localities with positive patients.

Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said of the 43,000 pulse oximeters ordered, 23,000 have been received and the remainder would arrive soon.

More such devices, which measure oxygen levels in blood, would be procured if there was a need for it, he said.

Fever camps were held in a slew of neighbourhoods here and Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner G Prakash inspected the initiatives.

In the camps, oxygen saturation levels of people were checked with pulse oximeters.

In general, according to experts, if anyone’s oxygen level slipsbelow 94 per cent they must seek medical help immediately.

Chennai police said except vehicles meant for milk distribution and those used for medical, emergency and funeral purposes, no other private vehicles would be allowed to ply on roads.

Vehicles used for purposes other than these would be detained, police said adding as many as 193 check posts have been set up in the city for monitoring.

For queries, traffic control room here may be contacted at 044-23452330, a police release said.

Intense lockdown was implemented from June 19 to July 5, in Chennai and parts of neighbouring Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Chengalpet districts.

In Madurai, similar restrictions came into effect on June 24 and would be operational till July 14.

The curbs in the southern regions, effective from June 24, have been extended to help more detection of people with flu-like and coronavirus symptoms and further aid prevention of the spread of the pathogen, the Chief Minister said.

Utilising the lockdown, fever camps and door-to-door surveys were intensified to identify more people with symptoms and help prevent spread of the virus by treating them, he added.

The stringent restrictions, first extended till July 5 and later till today, has now been extended for the third time in Madurai and nearby regions. From July 15, relaxations previously applicable like extended business hours for shops selling essentials would again come into force, he said.

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