Despite a surge in Covid-19 cases, the Tamil Nadu government on Monday said it would allow people to organise the bull-taming sport jallikattu during the Pongal festival starting from January 14, The Hindu reported. The sport will now be played amid strict coronavirus curbs.

Only the master and the trainer of the bull will be able to take part in the event, that too if they are fully vaccinated. Only 50% of seats can be occupied in the sport arena and a maximum of 150 audience members will be allowed. They, too, will have to produce proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test.

The department and organisers of the event will also have to show vaccination certificates and a negative coronavirus test. “Those living in other towns/cities are advised to watch the telecast and web-streaming of the Jallikattu events,” the government order said.

Tamil Nadu on Monday reported 13,990 new cases of Covid-19, of which 6,190 infections were recorded from Chennai alone. Monday’s cases were 3.8% higher than the previous day’s count of 12,895. The state also reported 11 deaths over the last 24 hours.

Following the surge in cases, the state government extended restrictions till January 31 to curb the spread of the virus, NDTV reported. All the districts will also be completely locked down on Sunday.

As many as 2,547 patients were discharged from hospital after treatment on Monday. Tamil Nadu currently has 62,767 active cases.

Meanwhile, the state’s test positivity rate increased above 10%, NDTV reported.

Chennai’s test positivity rate increased from 3.3% to 17.4% between January 1 and January 9, the Hindustan Times reported. The rise was twice the state average in the same duration.

Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said that the Omicron variant of coronavirus was the primary reason behind the increase in cases.

“We need not panic, but people need to cooperate by following [the] pandemic norms,” Radhakrishnan said. “If they do, there is a possibility for the transmission to rapidly decline, too.”

According to government data, all of Tamil Nadu’s 185 Omicron patients have recovered from the infection.

Currently, only 1% of beds in the intensive care unit were occupied in the state, the health secretary said. On Monday, only 6,706 out of the total 75,086 beds were occupied in Tamil Nadu.