As the fourth phase of the COVID-19 lockdown is set to end on Sunday (May 31), an expert committee has suggested that the lockdown should continue in four districts of Tamil Nadu—Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Chengalpattu—that have the maximum number of positive cases.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Saturday (May 30) held a meeting with the committee for the fifth time. The meeting was convened after the state government was unable to decide on the extension of the lockdown during another meeting that was held on May 26.
The expert committee has said the state must ramp up testing. “When the number [of positive cases] increases, we should not panic. If we conduct more tests, we could identify more cases and isolate the infected people. Only then, we can contain the spread [of COVID-19],” said Dr Prabhdeep Kaur of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
It is very difficult to ascertain the behaviour of the virus completely. Hence, we cannot predict what will happen in the next month, she added.
“About 70 per cent of cases in the country are from 30 cities. The state government must continue the lockdown in Chennai and it’s neighbourhood districts, including Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Chengalpattu, We cannot provide all relaxations to containment zones,” said Kaur.
Dr P Kuganantham, another member of the committee, said the community spread had not begun in Chennai. The density of people is the main reason for the spike in the number of cases. Particularly, wards 4, 5 and 6 have a lot of slums, which have tiny houses and people live close to each other, he said, adding that there was a lack of awareness among those people.
When asked about the community spread, he said it has become a “word game”.
“If we have community spread, then the number of deaths should also have been increased. But we are able to prevent deaths. So far, most deaths have happened because of comorbidity. That is why we are urging the people to have early attention to disease if they have a fever or any other symptoms,” said Kuganantham.
Meanwhile, it seems that the state will follow the Centre’s ‘Unlock 1.0’ and the lockdown will continue in containment zones until further orders.