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‘Why lockdown again when earlier attempts have failed?’

As the city enters yet another lockdown, the general public as well as healthcare professionals are unsure of its outcome, and maintain that it would help contain the virus spread only partially – even in the best case scenario.

‘Why lockdown again when earlier attempts have failed?’
The crowd on Ritchie Street ahead of lockdown


Former director of public health Dr K Kolandaisamy said that the lockdown would help control transmission only in crowded areas in the hotspots. “However, that alone will not be of use to reduce the cases of COVID-19. In order to make lockdown effective, using masks and hand washing facility in all public areas should be compulsory,” he said.

Those above the age of 60 are at greater risk and should be protected from infection, he said. “Hand washing, micro disinfection and all other precautions during this period will help reduce the transmission rate,” Kolandaisamy added. However, many have questioned the government’s reasons behind yet another lockdown. “We have been in three months of lockdown now but the city is still recording about 2,000 cases every day. I am not sure what this new lockdown will achieve when all past attempts have failed,” said Kumar G from Mogappair, a businessman who said his earnings substantially dwindled due to the lockdowns. Dr Sivakumar, chief of medicine at Villupuram Government Medical College, said lockdown could help in two ways – preventing further spread due to asymptomatic individuals, prevent high risk people from getting infected.

“However, any physical contacts with surfaces in public places and other individuals should be avoided, and hand washing should be practised. The cases can be brought down a bit if the lockdown is strictly implemented, especially in Chennai, where public places are the sources of infection,” he said.

Former city mayor and DMK MLA Ma Subramanian opined that a lockdown within a lockdown was illogical and only showed that the government was running out of ideas.

“Going by the State’s action in handling the pandemic, I am reminded of the proverb – catch the bull by its horns and not by its tail. In my view, the lockdown within a lockdown is illogical. Chennai is home for workers and employees. But today people are abandoning the city due to infections and job loss,” he said.

Shops stock up to sustain during lockdown period
The supermarkets and other shops in most parts of the city were not as crowded as was the case in the previous lockdowns, with retailers claiming that they had adequate stocks to last the lockdown period. However, what was worrisome was the cavalier manner in which social distancing norm was flouted despite repeated campaigns.

“There was not much crowd compared to the lockdown in April. Though many are not willing to deliver products, we managed to stock up goods on our own. As the shop will function during the complete lockdown, customers have not rushed to purchase,” said Parimala, who runs a supermarket in Old Washermenpet.

Also, the people were able to replenish the stock at home after the lockdown was relaxed, so there was no last minute rush, added retailers.

“The supermarkets have enough stock and they will function daily. So there is no need to worry or rush to the shop,” said Kaniga L, a resident of Tondiarpet.

“We went a bit early thinking that the shop would be crowded and won’t get any products like the previous lockdown. But surprisingly, there were hardly eight to ten customers. People have already stocked up food products in the last few days and also because the shops will remain open,” said Ajitha B of Shenoy Nagar.

However, the Madhavaram market saw a large number of customers on Thursday, said vendors, adding that the police cleared the crowd immediately.

Meat and fish shops to be closed
The Greater Chennai Corporation directed meat shop owners to close shops during the complete lockdown till June 30. According to a statement, all four slaughterhouses in Perambur, Villivakkam, Kallikuppam and Saidapet would remain closed. “All meat and fish shops in the city should also be closed during the period,” the statement said. An official said the order was issued to avoid overcrowding during the lockdown. “Residents tend to crowd at fish markets and meat shops, especially on Sundays, increasing the risk of COVID-19 spread. However, vegetables shops will remain open from 6 am to 2 pm,” he added.

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