Madras HC gives Tamil Nadu 2 weeks to bring in Covid-19 restrictions
The Madras high court on Wednesday said the Covid-19 situation in Tamil Nadu appeared to be serious, yet there was no lockdown and people weren’t following infection containment norms. It asked the government to bring in restrictions within two weeks since assembly elections were over, said an advocate, whose plea seeking Covid restrictions was being heard in the court.
Chief justice Sanjib Banerjee made the observations while passing orders on a public interest litigation (PIL)-- moved by advocate Ramkumar Adityan---seeking directions to the government to subject all international air passengers to RT-PCR test on arrival. The court will hear the matter next in two week’s time.
“The court has said that some restrictions must be brought in place as cases are surging,” said Adityan. “The court has given state officials two weeks’ time to come up with a final decision, if not, the court will intervene.” No other specific instructions were given by the court, he said.
A day after elections, Tamil Nadu reported 3,986 new Covid-19 cases, including 1,459 in Chennai, taking active cases to 27,743 and total infections to 911,110. 17 deaths were also reported on Wednesday. 79,927 samples were sent for RT-PCR testing in the backdrop of the test positivity rate crossing 10% on Monday. Tamil Nadu is among the 8 states including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh that have seen a rise in daily Covid cases recently, together accounting for 80.70% of the new cases reported in a day.
TN’s death toll of 12,821 is only behind Maharashtra’s 55,000 plus deaths out of 1,66,862 deaths recorded across India due to the disease. Karnataka-12,731, Delhi-11,133 and West Bengal-10,363 are other three states to have logged more than 10,000 fatalities due to the infection.
TN assembly elections saw massive crowds gatherings with little adherence to Covid-compliant behaviour like social distancing and wearing masks. Greater Chennai Corporation commissioner G Prakash had said restrictions will be brought after the polls to contain the spread. However, the health secretary had ruled out the imposition of lockdown after the elections. “Don’t believe in rumours; we will bring restrictions to non-essential activities,” he said last week.
Ramkumar filed the PIL in December 2020 stating that only passengers from the UK were being tested and quarantined to check for the new UK strain and prayed for testing all international passengers to ensure there were no loopholes.
Several states including Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra have announced varying restrictions ranging from lockdown, night curfew, ban on mass events, closure of offices to suspension of state transport.