Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on Thursday virtually ruled out lifting of the 21-day lockdown ending in April 14 as the number of Coronavirus patients was steadily going up and it now stood at 738 and the death toll at eight.
He said a decision on lifting the lockdown could be taken only after assessing the impact of the disease in the State.
One suggestion is to confine the lock down to hotspots and ease restrictions in the rest of the State so that factories, private companies, shops and establishments can function with skeleton staff.
Now only malls, grocery stores, and vegetables are open. .Barring medical shops, all others are shut by 1 pm. To maintain social distancing, vegetable shops have been shifted to unused bus terminals and playgrounds.
Because they are open only for a few hours in the morning people crowd these places. Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisami said on Thursday that the government planned to get provisions from neighbouring States to avoid shortage and distribute them through co-operative stores.
Talking to reporters at the Secretariat in Chennai after holding a review meeting with members of 12 task forces, he said prohibitory orders under Sec 144 and lockdown were clamped mainly to avoid crowding of public places. He said social distancing was the only way to prevent the State from moving the present second stage to the third stage of community transmission when it would get out of control.
He regretted that people had not realised the gravity of the situation as could be seen from the fact that a fine of Rs 40 lakh had been collected from violators of prohibitory orders.
He said the government was taking all steps to prevent the onset of the third stage. It had ordered four lakh rapid testing kits from China and the first batch of 50,000 would reach the State by Friday
Over 46,000 beds had been set apart in hospitals for Covid patients and there was enough stock of drugs and ventilators and masks. Further over 6,000 had been tested in 17 labs and results of a little over 300 were awaited. The government had also collected details of 14 lakhs migrant workers. Nearly 75,000 had been put up in community hall, he said.