Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Government on Monday decided to extend its order suspending bus services in the State till July 31 in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Last month the Governemnt had divided the State into eight zones comprising a few districts each and allowed public transport services to resume within each zone subject to certain restrictions on passenger capacity. The buses, were nonetheless, not operated in Chennai and its surrounding districts. However, towards the last week of June, the inter-district movement of buses within zones was stopped. This month, the Government chose to suspend bus services altogether till July 15 and on Monday extended the same to the month end.
"We are following the recommendation of the medical experts panel. The experts had advised us against resuming bus transport for the public as they found that it led to increase in the spread of COVID-19 infection. Therefore, we have now decided to suspend both public and private bus transport across the State till the month-end," a Transport Department official explained.
The State, which saw a dip in COVID-19 cases earlier last week, once again saw an increase in numbers over the weekend. On Monday too it recorded 4,328 new patients, while recording 66 deaths. Presently, Tamil Nadu has 48,196 active cases, while the overall tally stood at 1,42,798.
Significantly, the State Capital, Chennai, which was a hotspot for novel coronavirus disease, has been witnessing a steady decline over the past few days. Contrary to the 2,000-plus new cases recorded on a daily basis earlier, for the fifth consecutive day the number stood way below the 2,000 mark. On Monday, the new patient count in Chennai was only 1,140.
"From July 1 itself we have been witnessing a reasoanble decline in cases in Chennai. It has come down by over 50 per cent. However, we need to wait for a few days before cheering over the development lest there is a relapse in the spread," a Health Department official said.
According to the official, a focussed intervention in the capital city when it was under "complete lockdown" led to the decline in cases. The Greater Chennai Corporation conducted numerous fever camps in the city and tested all those reporting with fever or influenza like illness and quarantined them. This helped in reducing the new cases.
However, now the cases are spreading the rural areas including Madurai and officials are paying attention to adopting the "fever camp" strategy in the rural districts as well.