COVID-19: Urban TN gets deserted, authorities focus on clean up work

(Eds; rpting after change in 1st para) Chennai, Apr 26 (PTI) The complete lockdown RPT lockdown in the major urban centres of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai and Coimbatore, came into force on Sunday with groceries and vegetable shops also shutting down as civic bodies intensified disinfectionwork in their respective regions.

While police patrol vehicles and flying squads of civic bodies alone could be seen in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem and Tirupur, people in some localities in north Chennai loitered around and police warned them to stay indoors.

Also, regions close to Chennai and falling under Chengelpet, Kancheepuram, and Tiruvallur districts, besides districts including Cuddalore, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam are fully shut today.

Though mild showers since early morning here brought welcome relief to people during summer, there was no respite for health workers of Greater Chennai Corporation, who continued their work of visiting every household to check if people had symptoms, including fever associated with flu.

Districts, including Chengelpet, also witnessed rains.

Disinfection work was carried out in all shutdown cities, with special focus on containment zones, authorities said.

Milk supply was not affected as government run 'Aavin' (Tamil Nadu Co-operative Milk Producers'Federation) delivered it to consumers at their doorsteps as usual.

The Koyambedu vegetable market here, which alone was allowed to open, witnessed fewer footfalls as the public were not permitted to venture out and retailers running neighbourhood outlets avoided purchase from there as they could not open their shops.

Traders said some hawkers and pushcart vendors were among the very few number of people who visited the market to buy vegetables and arrival of fresh stocks too was limited.

While several shops within the marketwere either shut or opened only for purposes like cleaning, a section of outlets thatopened for usual trade closed by noon.

President of the Koyambedu Market Anna Anaithu Vyabarigal PodhuNala Sangam, (General traders welfare association) 'Pazhakadiai' Jayaraman told PTI: 'The market is deserted since people did not venture out of their homes.

Many like me who opened shops in the morning closed down our outlets at noon since there were not many buyers.' People had on Saturday resorted to panic buying of essentials in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tirupur and Salem.

Koyambedu, the name of both the locality here and the market, is one of the biggest in South India, that vends vegetables, fruits and flowers, catering to the general public, wholesalers and retailers as well.

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Tamil Nadu, Palaniswami had on April 24 announced a complete shutdown beginning Sunday in Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai for four days, disallowing grocery shops as well and fully curtailing movement of the public.

Also, Salem and Tirupur in western Tamil Nadu shall be shut similarly, albeit for three days from April 26, he said while assuring the people that mobile outlets would bring vegetables and fruits would to their doorsteps.

Chennai Corporation had made it clear that barring Koyambedu, no shops would be allowed to function even for selling vegetables and fruits and that only push carts and mobile vehicles would be permitted to do so. PTI VGN APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH