New Delhi: Central Chennai’s extremely busy Koyambedu area has now emerged as the latest hotspot of the deadly coronavirus infection, down South in Tamil Nadu. The city police forced down the shutters of the shops and markets and has placed Chennai under an extended lockdown till May 7. Also Read - Coronavirus in Maharashtra: 2560 Cases, 122 Deaths in 24 Hours; Total Tally Crosses 74000-mark

Huge crowds of people buying fruits and vegetables were witnessed in the wholesale market in Koyambedu, an area that also holds Chennai’s most prominent bus depot. Police personnel were deployed in the area and markets were forced to close as the number of COVID-19 cases surged in the city. Also Read - Viral Video: Kerala Autorickshaw Driver Grabs 2.1 Million Views on TikTok For in-Built Handwashing Dispensers

Of the 527 positive cases as of Monday in Chennai alone, at least 215 of the 266 new cases were linked to the Koyambedu market. Also Read - Haryana Resumes Inter-state Bus Services; Aarogya Setu App, Identity Proof Must For Passengers

Speaking to reporters, Ram Mohan, member of All Vegetable Associations Action Committee said, “Yesterday they suddenly decided to shut the market without any consultation. They’ve asked us to shift to Thirumazhisai. Farmers and traders suffering losses due to erratic decisions taken by the Market Committee.”

Unlike in Chennai’s Thiruvanmiyur area where the market was divided into a group of two or three smaller ones, the market management committee in Koyambedu simply decided to shift it to Thirumazhisai on Monday, without decentralising it. As a result, the same number of people flouting social distance norms in the main market were now seen in Thirumazhisai.

State Disaster Response Force and Armed Reserve personnel were also deployed as part of efforts to regulate the movement of traders and help prevent the further spread of the contagion.

After inspecting the market, Commissioner of Revenue Administration and special nodal officer J Radhakrishnan told reporters that focused testing was on at the market place under which all the employees were being tested.

In view of targeted testing, the number of positive cases was likely to go up, he said, adding that however, the rise in numbers was not a cause for concern as all anti-COVID-19 efforts were being taken by the government.

Pointing out that several people who tested positive were asymptomatic, he said arrangements were on to house such patients in facilities like colleges and the Trade Centre at Nandambakkam, which are designated as Covid Care Centres, rather than in hospitals.