New Delhi: Four Indian states saw a massive surge in Covid-19 cases after the Ganesh Chathurthi and Onam festivals in August — a warning sign to the central and state governments ahead of the Navratri-Durga Puja-Dussehra-Diwali-Chhath festive season in October and November.
Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi on 22 August, and according to a State Bank of India research report released Thursday, Andhra registered 2.93 lakh Covid cases after the festival, which accounted for 67 per cent of the total cases reported by the state. The corresponding figure for Maharashtra was 3.7 lakh cases (46 per cent of all cases in the state), while for Telangana, it was 62,000 cases (nearly 50 per cent of all cases).
Kerala, the first Indian state to report a Covid case way back in January, added 1.38 lakh cases after Onam — nearly 65 per cent of all its cases.
The Kerala government had flagged the possibility of Onam contributing to the sharp increase in cases in the first week of September itself. CM Pinarayi Vijayan had warned about the possibility of the formation of new Covid clusters in the state after the Onam festivities.
“…We may see Onam clusters being formed in the state due to increased outdoor public activity and travel during the festival time. We can expect a hike in the Covid cases,” Vijayan had said.
The Kerala government had also blamed the protests against the government on account of the gold smuggling case for the surge in Covid cases.
Bracing for the festive season
The trends from these four states are ringing warning bells for many other states ahead of the October-November festive season, as Navratri, Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali and Chhath Puja are expected to lead to a surge of people stepping out of their homes for shopping trips and celebrations.
“States which have celebrated festivals (Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam) have seen a significant increase in Covid cases and deaths as people moved out for the celebrations. This increases the worry of jump in cases in West Bengal after the Durga Puja celebrations in October if precautions are not taken,” the SBI said in its report.
The Narendra Modi government has also warned of a surge in cases on account of the festival season, and encouraged people to wear masks.
India has reported more than 68.3 lakh Covid cases as on 8 October, according to the website of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases at more than 14.8 lakh.
PM Modi rolled out a massive ‘jan andolan’ (people’s movement) campaign Thursday, aimed at spreading awareness about use of masks, social distancing and hand hygiene ahead of the festival season and the reopening of the economy.
The campaign comes at a time when the finance ministry has said that India’s Covid cases may have peaked in September, setting the stage for economic recovery.
The Indian economy contracted by a record 23.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2020-21, and is expected to contract in the second quarter as well, but by a lower magnitude.
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