Coronavirus in India: With festive season, elections around the corner, Centre, states spell out roadmap to check Covid-19

Coronavirus Covid19 India update: Earlier on August 29, the Group of Ministers (GOM) during a high-level meeting expressed concern about the forthcoming festival seasons and advised everyone to adopt safe and COVID-appropriate behaviour. (Reuters image)

Coronavirus India update: During the final week of September, there has been a dip in new Coronavirus cases in India. However, the months of October and November pose challenges before authorities to maintain the graph, as there will be festivals and elections across the country. NITI Aayog member Dr. VK Paul and ICMR DG Balram Bhargava have spelt ways to deal with the double challenges of the festive season and elections in order to check the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19.

NITI Aayog member Dr. VK Paul, who is also the chairperson of the Empowered Group-1 on Medical Emergency management, asserted that “we all need to ensure that in the coming months, we celebrate mask wali puja, mask wali Chhath, mask wali Diwali, mask wali Dussehra, mask wali Eid” in order to curb the spread of Coronavirus. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) DG Balram Bhargava said that in the light of the upcoming festivities, winter season, and mass gathering, inventive containment strategies need to be implemented by the states.

Earlier on August 29, the Group of Ministers (GOM) during a high-level meeting expressed concern about the forthcoming festival seasons and advised everyone to adopt safe and COVID-appropriate behaviour.

The Navratri festival will begin on October 17. It will culminate with Vijaya Dashmi or Dussehra on October 25. While Diwali this year will be celebrated on November 14, the Chhath festival will be held on November 20.

Maharashtra Home Department has issued guidelines for Navratri festivities. The guidelines stated idols at home cannot be higher than 2 feet and those at pandals have to be under 4 feet. Meanwhile, Garbha and dandiya events will not be held, the guidelines stated.

The West Bengal government has issued a notification giving details about COVID-19 safety protocols to be followed during Durga Puja.”Pandals shall have to be spacious and should be kept open from all sides. If in case it becomes essential to have a closed ceiling, the sides will have to be kept open and if the sides have to be blocked, the ceiling has to be kept open. Organizers shall make adequate arrangements for the distribution of masks in close vicinity of the pandal to the visitors who inadvertently come to the premises without wearing masks. Use and availability of hand sanitizer should similarly be made compulsory in the pandal premises,” the notification said. Customary rituals such as ‘pushpanjali’, ‘sindoor khela’, and distribution of ‘prasad’ will be organised in small groups with spaced out timings. People have been advised to bring flowers from home for ‘pushpanjali, the state government notification said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had appealed to the common people as well as the organizations managing religious places to adhere to all the preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the religious places during the upcoming festival season

Meanwhile, several states will have elections from October end to November. By-poll on one Parliamentary constituency of Bihar and 2 Assembly constituencies of Manipur will be held on November 7. By-poll elections in 54 Assembly constituencies in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Odisha, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh will be held on November 3. Counting of votes will be held on November 10, according to the schedule announced by the Election Commission.

Bihar Assembly elections will be held in three phases. Phase 1 will be held in 71 seats on October 28, Phase 2 is scheduled to be held in 94 seats on November 3. Phase 3 will be held in 78 seats on November 7. The Counting of votes will take place on November 10. Election Commission of India has unveiled detailed guidelines keeping in mind the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

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