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India curbs festive gathering as Covid third-wave sets in

Reports said oxygen production was being ramped up ahead of a possible third wave peak. - We The World Magazine

Kolkata, India: Indian authorities Wednesday announced new restrictions on religious and festive gatherings, as the nation braces for the third-wave covid.

State governments around the nation of 1.3 billion people are cracking down on large gatherings, as the nations still reeling from a disastrous coronavirus outbreak in April-May.

On Tuesday, Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar told reporters that the third wave is not coming; it is already here.

Festivals can be celebrated later. Let us put our residents’ lives and health first,” said Uddhav Thackeray, the chief minister of Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai.

He was addressing ahead of the Hindu Ganesh Chaturthi celebration, which begins on Friday and lasts 11 days.

To decrease the number of worshippers carrying Ganesha effigies during the festival, the state government would limit the height of the elephant-headed god’s effigies.

Processions will be prohibited on the first and last days of the festival.

Wreaked havoc

Covid-19 outbreak earlier this year wreaked havoc on India’s chronically underfunded healthcare sector and killed moreover 200,000 people.

Somber images of families perishing, grieving and burning ghats overflowing with dead bodies made headlines just a few months back.

India’s deadly second wave is widely believed to have happened after the Kumbh Mela, one of the world’s largest religious events, which drew over 25 million Hindu pilgrims.

Experts attributed the spike on the gathering, massive state election rallies, and the virulent Delta virus type, which was originally discovered in India.

Authorities have stated that a recent surge in cases in Kerala’s southern state following the August Onam holiday is of concern.

Despite the warnings, festive throngs have flooded markets in Maharashtra and other states in recent days.

In Northeast, West Bengal state braces for the Durga Pujas — Hindu celebration of epic scale that is observed across West Bengal.

Durga puja is followed by other festivals in different communities, ultimately leading to Christmas in December. But all of them can potentially add to India’s Covid woes.

Travel restrictions

As cases grow in another major Maharashtra city, Nagpur, restrictions on travel and activity are scheduled to be implemented this week.

A night curfew will be maintained in the neighboring state of Karnataka, and districts with higher positive test results would be barred from holding Ganesh celebrations.

K. Sudhakar, Karnataka’s health minister, told AFP that officials were afraid that the recent resumption of high school classes could lead to a surge in cases.

Tamil Nadu, in the south, has outlawed public festival festivities, while West Bengal, in the east, was poised to impose restrictions on the nine-day Durga Puja in October.

With almost 33 million infections and 441,000 deaths, India has the world’s second-highest known caseload.