With the emergence of the Koyambedu market as a hotspot in Tamil Nadu, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to soar in the state with more than 500 new cases reported on Wednesday. Breaking the silence on the market cluster, Chief Minister Edapaddi Palaniswami blamed the vegetable vendors and other workers carrying out activities in the market despite lockdown restrictions.
Palaniswami said, over 20,000 people were working at the Koyambedu market in Chennai. Upon anticipating that the market could become a hotspot for the infection, the State official held talks with the vendor associations on March 19. However, they refused to shift the market to other places suggested by the government.
The Chief Minister further said that his Government conducted a series of meetings with the vendors of Koyambedu over the same issue but they refused to move out, fearing heavy losses. Deputy CM Panneerselvam also had talks with them, but they were adamant. Palaniswami said, there is misinformation in the media that the Tamil Nadu Government did not take care if containing the spread in the Koyambedu market. People gathered in large numbers in the market, flouting social distancing norms. People were also not wearing masks. All this resulted in the spread of infection, he added.
The total COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu breached the 9,000-mark on Wednesday with three more deaths and a little over 500 people testing positive, the state government said. Among the new cases were a one-year-old baby and some who arrived from foreign countries by special air services as part of the "Vande Bharat" mission to bring back stranded Indians.
The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 64 while the tally of positive cases stood at 9,227, a health department bulletin said.
The state capital continued to account for a lion's share of the cases with 380 people turning COVID-19 positive. Five people who returned from foreign countries reported positive for the deadly virus, but the bulletin did not share details of their country of origin or when they arrived.
Around 21 districts in the state reported no fresh cases on Wednesday while 2,176 people have been discharged, the bulletin said. A total of 12,780 samples were tested in 56 labs.
(Image credits: PTI File photo)