In response to the Tamil Nadu state government’s order allowing jallikattu events to restart even though hundreds of people would be present, over 50 medical doctors signed a letter to the chief minister and health minister of Tamil Nadu urging them immediately to withdraw the permission, warning that it poses a grave risk to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. PETA India has also petitioned the state government to stop jallikattu events because of concerns about public health and cruelty to animals.
In the letter, the doctors state, “To prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19 and to protect public health, as well as to ease the pressure on healthcare professionals, non-essential activities such as jallikattu events, which lead to unnecessary gatherings of people, must not be allowed.”
The doctors warn that measures, such as the provision of COVID-19–negative certificates for participants and thermal screening of spectators as pre-conditions for allowing jallikattu are not enough to stop the spread of the virus. As the letter explains, during the incubation period, a contagious person may be tested too early and produce a false-negative result and not everyone with COVID-19 develops or sustains a fever.
The letter also states, “Since the Tamil Nadu government legalised jallikattu in 2017, at least 22 bulls and 57 humans have reportedly died, while 3,632 humans were injured in events organised throughout the state. Even more human deaths will likely occur because of COVID-19 if jallikattu events are allowed to be organised in the state.”