Sunday, October 24, 2021

Durga Puja festivities: Experts warn against mass gathering


The vaccination drive was kept steady on Monday with 60.63 lakh doses administered ahead of the festival season. With the onset of the five-day Durga Puja festival, health experts have sounded a warning against mass gathering, and advised a further push to the vaccination drive.

With the West Bengal government relaxing restrictions due to Durga Puja celebrations, a close watch is being kept on the number of cases to avoid a repeat of the Kerala experience, where the cases surged after Onam festivities.

West Bengal health department data showed 760 Covid cases with 11 fatalities. There is anxiety around Kolkata, which is among the 55 districts in the country where the test positivity rate is hovering at around 5 per cent. Altogether, India reported 18,132 Covid-19 cases on Monday, with 193 deaths in the last 24 hours till 8:00 am, as per the Health Ministry data. The cases have been less than 50,000 daily new cases for 106 consecutive days now and also the lowest in 215 days.

Besides this, 10.35 lakh tests were conducted during the previous day and the country has so far conducted over 58.36 crore cumulative tests. Also, the weekly positivity rate stood at 1.53 per cent, remaining less than 3 per cent for the last 108 days now. The daily positivity rate was registered at 1.75 per cent. The daily positivity rate remained below 3 per cent for the last 42 days and below 5 per cent for 125 consecutive days now.

However, experts cautioned against any relaxation in following Covid-appropriate behaviour, and urged people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

‘Cases on the rise’

“Though the number of active Covid cases is on the decline, fresh cases are being reported daily. In addition, due to the successful vaccination of a large number of the population, there has been a downward trend in the incidence of serious cases. However, we still continue to see severe Covid among the unvaccinated and those with underlying co-morbidities. With the third wave expected to affect the vulnerable population like unvaccinated children and others with co-morbidities, it is of utmost importance to ensure prevention of transmission Covid.

“With festivals round the corner, priority should be given to ensuring adherence to social distancing, appropriate hand hygiene measures and wearing of masks despite being vaccinated. Ensuring priority vaccination of those with comorbidities and avoidance of mass social gatherings can ensure better control of the spread of Covid,” said Dr Viswesvaran Balasubramanian, Consultant Interventional Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, Dr Richa Sareen, Senior Consultant, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital at Vasant Kunj, said there is a possibility of a rise in cases if there is aggregation of people at pooja pandals and navratri celebrations during the festival season.

“It is advisable to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, wear a mask and practice social distancing and hand hygiene while celebrating festivals. The Covid vaccination process is still ongoing in India and the population less than 18 years is yet to be vaccinated. So, it is better to be cautious now,” she said.

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