Following a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases in Chennai since Saturday, the Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday approved a recommendation from the public health department to issue guidelines to isolate asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms at their homes. It also decided to re-open liquor stores run by Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Limited (Tasmac) in parts of the state from May 7.
Most of these new cases originated from the Koyambedu vegetable market — authorities shut it down completely on Monday.
Tamil Nadu on Tuesday reported 508 positive cases, including 279 from Chennai.
A government order stated all mild and pre-symptomatic cases may be kept under home isolation. It also listed the conditions under which a medical officer can permit a patient to remain in self-isolation at home. “Availability of a well-ventilated single-room preferably with an attached or separate toilet is needed,” according to the order. The conditions also include the availability of a caregiver through the day, a communication mechanism between the caregiver and a hospital for the entire duration of the isolation, besides a protocol to ensure a steady supply of medicines for the patient, the caregiver and any other contacts.
In another decision on Tuesday, the government also decided to allow Tasmac liquor stores to operate from May 7.
According to estimates, an average revenue of Rs 80 crore is generated from 5,300 liquor shops across the state on a daily basis.
Bars attached to these outlets, however, will remain closed.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said his government will ensure nobody starves in this time of crisis.
Meanwhile, the DMK and BJP demanded that the government immediately withdraw the decision on liquor shops.
The decision also sparked concerns among officials. A top health official said re-opening liquor stores would negate the impact of the ongoing containment measures in the state. “Exempting liquor shops at this juncture would be suicidal,” the official said.