Tamil Nadu may extend lockdown till May 31

Tamil Nadu may extend lockdown till May 31

With the state continuing to see a rise in Covid-19 cases, the Tamil Nadu government is likely to announce a lockdown extension up to May 31, but with some more easing of norms. On Thursday, the state government-appointed health expert team recommended to chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami a phased easing of the lockdown. The experts strongly recommended ramping up testing to better map the virus spread.

Sources said the government would not allow public transport, gyms, malls and theatres to operate during the extended lockdown period. “Industries might work with some more concessions. The state is considering permitting government offices to work with 50% strength on alternate days and a six-day-a-week work schedule,” said a source. The state will take a call on Saturday factoring in local aspects and recent spike in cases. The CM had already requested the Centre not to resume regular flights and train services until May 31.

On Thursday, TN issued guidelines making testing mandatory for all those coming from other states. This comes close on the heels of arrival of special trains from Delhi on Thursday and Saturday. An order issued by chief secretary K Shanmugam said that among those coming from hotspots like Delhi, Gujarat and Maharashtra, people testing positive would be taken to hospitals, while those testing negative will remain in institutional quarantine for seven days. The health expert team was in a three-hour-long session with the chief minister at the Secretariat during which they recommended increased testing. “Lockdown is going to enter the next phase. There can only be a gradual easing of lockdown and it cannot be eased completely. Otherwise, there will be a rise in infection,” National Institute of Epidemiology’s Prabhdeep Kaur told reporters. The team had told the government that ramping up testing could help identify the disease spread and there was no need to panic over high number of cases. This will help focus on areas and take effective decisions for prevention, contact tracing and isolation of cases.