Chennai Buzz: COVID-19 updates | Shut toilets leave homeless in the lurch | Metro rail work to resume…and more

How is the city dealing with COVID-19? How are the homeless coping with public toilets being shut because of the lockdown? What's the scene at the Koyambedu wholesale market? A quick recap of some important updates from your city over the week that passed.

COVID-19 updates: 228 patients in Chennai, rapid antibody testing kits reach Chennai, GCC identifies 4,787 people with coronavirus-like symptoms

As of April 17th, Tamil Nadu had 1323 COVID-19 positive cases, of which 228 are from Chennai. Of the total number of patients, 283 have been discharged.

Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) has advised residents not to pay their bills until the lockdown ends or pay the same online. However, many residents in Arumbakkam walked through MGR Nagar, a containment zone, to pay fearing power disruption.

While the movement inside the containment zone is prohibited, cops at the entry points are strict on vigil. But as people from the neighbourhood walked over to pay dues, a cop on duty noted down the name and numbers of the consumers. One of them said that they had been told to let the consumers go to pay power bills.

The state has received 24,000 rapid antibody testing kits from China. The rapid antibody testing kits will give the results in 30 minutes, whereas the RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) test takes five hours. If the rapid antibody test shows COVID-19-positive, a throat swab is collected for the PCR test. The ICMR has directed the state to use the rapid antibody kits only for epidemiological studies and surveillance, particularly in hotspots.

GCC has identified 4,787 people with COVID-19-like symptoms in various parts of the city. 693 of them would undergo the COVID-19 test. The local body has set-up 26 sample collection centres and according to the commissioner, the city will get priority in rapid testing kit allocation. The civic body has also instructed that people stepping out are required to wear a mask, failing which the violators are subjected to punishment.

Clearing the air surrounding direct distribution of relief materials, the Madras High Court has ruled that political outfits and organisations should inform the local authorities 48 hours in advance. Besides the vehicle driver, the court ordered that only three organisers should be on the ground to distribute materials.

Source: The Hindu | The Times of India

Public toilets shut

With several public toilets remaining shut since the lockdown announcement, the homeless and pavement dwellers are facing serious issues. Restrooms in Egmore, Pulianthope and Vepery High Road were found to be locked. Those on the streets also depended on bathrooms in the hotels nearby. With all options being ruled out, they have no choice but to use the open space or dig pits. The affected people are particularly worried about the safety of women in the absence of safe toilets.

In yet another case, a restroom that caters to about 70 families on the footpath at Perambur Barracks street is locked every evening at 9.30 pm. The users complain of unclean washroom and lack of hygiene.

Source: The Times of India | The New Indian Express

What curfew? Koyambedu choked

It appears as though life is normal in Koyamedu. While the health department has been creating awareness on maintaining social distance, thousands of families besides traders have been visiting the Koyambedu Wholesale Market (KWMC) to buy essentials. Roads in the market were clogged with vehicles of all kinds, following which the entry points to the market were sealed.

The Market Management Committee (MMC) has now  decided to allow two-wheelers till 7.30 am and reopen an additional entry to prevent bottlenecks.

Source: The Times of India | The Hindu

Metro rail extension work to resume next week

Early next week, extension  of Phase I of the Chennai Metro in north Chennai is likely to be resumed. Officials say the project may suffer delays due to the pandemic crisis. Various kinds of machines belonging to the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) have been lying in the spot and officials plan to use them after fumigating the sites and machines. Further, the department plans to lay down rules to maintain social distance and may appoint a person to monitor the same. For this project, 2,800 workers hailing from several parts of the country have been roped in. Currently, they are sheltered in six camps in Chennai.

Source: The Hindu

[Compiled by Bhavani Prabhakar]

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