With only one Coronavirus positive reported in the state so far, alarm bells in Chennai have predictably been less shrill than in other cities of the country. However, there is no scope for complacence. Government departments have been issuing circulars and releases to the media, detailing the various precautionary measures taken by them to prevent the spread of the disease. In the most recent development, the Tamil Nadu government has announced closure of kindergarten classes in all districts till the end of March.
India is reportedly in Stage II of the disease outbreak, where transmission is said to be contained within people having a history of travel to affected areas and those in direct contact with them. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, there is a 30-day window for the nation to stop, or at least slow down, the progression to the next stage, when community transmission may begin to happen. Towards that end, governments, organisations and citizens must all take responsible steps.
Chennai Corporation has held talks with owners of theatres, malls, restaurants, ATM kiosks and banks to mandatorily disinfect all high contact surfaces. However, in a reality check by Citizen Matters Chennai, it was observed that while the government departments had initiated measures to halt spread, the efforts of private entities such as restaurants and banks leave much to be desired.
A few snapshots from the city:
(Pics by the author, unless otherwise specified) —
“Based on instructions from the health and transport departments, all the 3400 buses belonging to the MTC are disinfected every morning. It is a practice that we followed even before the spread of Caronavirus,” said the spokesperson of MTC. When asked if the drivers were wearing masks, the spokesperson said, “It is not necessary.”
Following complaints from passengers, the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) has been making announcements at the stations requesting the passengers to cover their mouths with tissues or handkerchiefs while coughing. “We have instructed the staff sitting at the counters to use masks and hand sanitisers. Rest rooms are cleaned frequently,” said Pandiyan Shanmugam, spokesperson of CMRL.
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