An expert medical panel, constituted by the Tamil Nadu government to advice it on COVID-19, on Saturday said the ongoing lockdown should not be relaxed in four high-prevalence districts including Chennai.
It also indicated there cannot be a 'one size fits all' approach on relaxing the curbs, saying local conditions should be factored in before removing the lockdown in the respective districts.
The fourth leg of the COVID-19 induced lockdown is scheduled to end on Sunday.
Dr Prabhdeep Kaur from the National Institute of Epidemiology (ICMR) and a panel member, said while the state government has already given some relaxations, the curbs should, however, continue in the four most affected districts.
"What the committee feels is we have to be more careful in Chennai, Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur (where the) cases are increasing. So restrictions should continue (in these places), all kinds of relaxations cannot be given," she told reporters after the panel's meeting with Chief Minister K Palaniswami and other government officials.
"Rather than applying the same rule across Tamil Nadu (on easing curbs), the situation in the respective districts can be assessed and some relaxations given (there) accordingly," she added.
Earlier too, the panel had favoured a graded exit from the lockdown in Tamil Nadu, saying the curbs should not be lifted across the state uniformly.
Tamil Nadu's total virus count stands at 20,246, one of the highest in the country, with Chennai having more than 13,000 cases.
Neighbouring Chengalpattu (1000), Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, with 366 and 877 cases, respectively, are the other high-prevalence districts in the state.
On the virus, Kaur said it was a "new" one and that a lot of research was happening all over the world which was discussed on Saturday.
It has affected more cities due to higher population, as was the case with Chennai, she said.
However, the pandemic was under control in the rest of the state, even as Tamil Nadu's fatality rate was also low, she said.
She called for stricter "mask compliance," as part of precautions, saying this adherence had greatly helped in controlling the contagion in many countries.
Dr Guganandam, an epidemiologist and another committee member, said resumption of Metro rail services and reopening of places of worship was not possible as of now.
He also indicated there was no community spread of the virus, saying it would lead to many deaths, which was not happening.
"We have a low fatality rate," he said.
Death toll from Coronavirus in the state is 154.
Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist, joined the meeting from Geneva.