Violations of coronavirus guidelines continue in Tamil Nadu ahead of the state Assembly elections even as authorities urged political parties to ensure that attendees wear masks in public meetings and roadshows, reported NDTV.

The violations come amid a nearly 100% rise in coronavirus cases in the state in nearly three weeks. On March 1, the state recorded 474 new cases and, on Wednesday, the daily infection count climbed to 989. There were 867 new Covid-19 cases reported on Thursday, pushing the tally in the state to 8,61,429, reported The Hindu.

On Thursday, only a few people were seen with masks and the crowd failed to adhere to physical distancing norms during the poll campaigning of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in the Cauvery delta region of the state that includes Sirkazhi, Kudavasal and Vedaranyam.

Similar scenes were witnessed at Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam rallies in Thiruvallur and Pudukkottai and Chennai as well as at Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan’s meetings in Tiruppur and Gobichettipalayam and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam’s General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran’s rally in and around the state capital.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam members hold placards with portrait of party president MK Stalin during a rally ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections in Chennai, on Monday. (Source: Arun Sankar/ AFP)
Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam during an election rally. (Source: AIADMK/ Twitter)

Officials in the state have attributed the surge in cases to an increase in political activity, a rise in events such as weddings and home quarantine violations.

“There is heightened political activity and many gatherings,” Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan told NDTV. “People do not wear mask as you show on TV. Even if one has the virus, it spreads.”

An Indian Medical Association official blamed political leaders for the violations of the guidelines. “Even many leaders, who ought to be role models, do not wear masks,” he said.

However, the political parties claimed that they were doing their best. DMK spokesperson A Saravanan said that party chief MK Stalin has taken the coronavirus vaccine and urged everyone to get the shots. “He also advises party workers and [the] general public to wear masks and follow social distancing to stop the spread of the virus,” Saravanan said.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam spokesperson Kovai Sathyan said: “Both Chief Minister [Edappadi K Palaniswami] and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam have told party cadre to wear masks at every meeting.”

Witnessing these violations, authorities have started penalising those violating the coronavirus norms in public places. Health authorities have also started preparing Covid-19 care centres, getting at least 4,000 beds in Chennai also, in anticipation of an exponential rise in infections.

Elections to the 234-seat Tamil Nadu Assembly and the bye-poll to Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat will be held in a single phase on April 6. The results will be announced on May 2.