Tamil Nadu on Sunday recorded its highest one-day coronavirus spike with 1,149 people testing positive for the deadly virus in 24 hours, government data said. The total of deaths reached 173 with 13 new additions. Chennai, the worst-hit city in the state, reported 804 cases.
So far, 22,333 people have tested positive in Tamil Nadu out of which 9,400 are active; 12,757 have been cured of COVID-19.
Tamil Nadu's capital Chennai has 14,802 cases including 129 deaths. Initially, the Koyambedu Vegetable Market super spreader in Chennai infected at least 2600 people. Now 5 clusters in the city, including urban slums with cramped houses and narrow lanes, have emerged as a major challenge. These communities have been reportedly compromising on social distancing and not wearing masks. Non-profits have been roped in to raise awareness.
The state government says Tamil Nadu's mortality rate is the lowest at 0.7%. They also attribute the rising number of cases in Chennai to enhanced testing and dense population.
The opposition however blames it on the state government's initial complacency and impact of panic buying amid the lockdown.
Within days of the resumption of domestic flights, 20 people who flew and landed in the state have tested positive.
Following the centre's "Unlock1" guidelines on Saturday, the state government eased several lockdown restrictions, including ban on intra-state movement, but didn't allow the opening of malls and religious places.
The E Palaniswami government on Sunday extended the coronavirus lockdown till June 30 as per the centre's guidelines. Under the new rules, inter-district public transport is allowed in the state except in Chennai, Kancheepurm, Tiruvallur and Chengalpet districts, which are the worst-hit cities.
The state has framed several rules for bus travel to check the spread of the virus. Monthly passes and electronic payments will be encouraged to limit the exchange of currency; QR code systems for payments will be installed.
Buses will not have more than 60 per cent occupancy to ensure safe distance between passengers, the Tamil Nadu government has said, adding masks will be mandatory. Crews will have to wear both masks and gloves.
Passengers will be allowed on board from rear gates. All those entering the bus will have to clean their hands with sanitizers.
While taxis and autos have been allowed to operate, metro rail services will remain suspended during the period, a state government order said.
All showrooms and big shops including those selling jewellery and textiles will be allowed to operate with 50 per cent staff in non-containment zones from June 1, it adds. Restaurants will be allowed to resume business from June 8.