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‘Covid not over’ — Modi govt refuses Delhi request for separate Chhath Puja guidelines

Deputy Delhi CM Manish Sisodia wrote to Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya seeking separate guidelines for Chhath Puja, after DDMA barred its celebration at public places.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has ruled out the possibility of issuing separate guidelines for Chhath Puja as requested by the Delhi government, noting that Covid-19 advisories are already in place, ThePrint has learnt.

“There are existing standard operating procedures (SoP) in place for Covid-19. Covid guidelines are already in place in states in some form or the other. Depending on their requirements, states have also been revisiting those guidelines. So the issue of fresh SoPs for Chhath makes no sense,” said a source in the Union health ministry.

“There should not be politics in this. We are all fighting Covid-19 together. Corona is still not over and we all need to do our bit,” the source added.

Last month, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) — chaired by the Delhi Lt Governor and including representation from the UT government — had prohibited Chhath Puja at water bodies and other public places due to the pandemic.

The move was criticised by the Delhi BJP, and MP Manoj Tiwari, former president of the party’s Delhi unit, carried out demonstrations against the directions.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia wrote to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya Tuesday, asking him to issue guidelines to allow Chhath Puja celebrations after holding consultations with health experts. He said the Covid situation in Delhi is under control.

According to the latest Covid update issued Wednesday, Delhi recorded 31 Covid cases, 58 recoveries and zero deaths in the preceding 24 hours. The national capital has 338 active Covid cases.

Also read: How Delhi’s women celebrated the beginning of Chhath puja despite a ban & Covid worries

100-crore vaccinations

India is expected to cross the 100-crore vaccination mark by 18-19 October, according to sources in the health ministry. Earlier, the government expected to reach the target on 10-12 October.

Once the target is reached, the health ministry is planning to celebrate the milestone by organising various programmes across the country with Covid warriors, healthcare workers and frontline workers, said a source.

Around 60 lakh doses of ZyCov-D vaccines will also hit the market this month, the sources added.

Meanwhile, over 28 crore vaccine doses — including 22 crore Covishield doses and six crore Covaxin doses — will also be available in October. In September, a total of 18.74 crore vaccine doses were administered.

However, the government will consider export of vaccines only after assessing the excess production, the source said.

“Export of vaccines is not the priority right now. We want to ensure everyone is vaccinated first. We will assess the excess production in the fourth quarter and a decision on vaccine export will be taken,” said the source in the ministry.

(Edited by Rachel John)

Also read: India’s infection rate drops to 0.90, but West Bengal’s R crosses 1 amid Pujo festivities


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