New Delhi: Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced 21-day nationwide lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Kerala witnessed nine deaths but not due to COVID-19 but because of the non-availability of liquor in the state. Also Read - COVID-19 Lockdown: Migrant Workers Take to Streets in Kerala, Police Urge Them to 'go Back'

Of the total 9 deaths, seven people committed suicide out of depression , one died of cardiac arrest and another lost his life after consuming aftershave lotion. While the deadly COVID-19 has resulted in one fatality so far, closure of liquor shops has brought a different tragedy across the state, which has more than 200 coronavirus cases. Also Read - Kerala Reports First Coronavirus Death. A Reason to Worry? | 5 Points

Following the suicide cases, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan yesterday directed the Excise Department to provide liquor to those with a prescription from a doctor. Besides, the Kerala government also asked the Excise Department to provide free treatment and admit people with withdrawal symptoms to the de-addiction centres. Also Read - Malabar Civet in Kerala, Neel Gai in Noida: What's Happening? Twitter Exclaims Under Lockdown

The move was strongly opposed by the medical professionals.  The Kerala Government Medical Officers Association on Sunday said that it is unethical and against medical practice to do this.

“We will not do such a thing and the government should withdraw this direction,” said the doctors’ body.

Meanwhile the Indian Society of Gastroenterology’s Kerala Chapter, while appreciating the steps taken by the state government in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak, said they are concerned about its recent decision to make alcohol available through the Excise Department for those with alcohol craving.