West Bengal: As people flout COVID-19 protocols at Durga pandals, experts fear third wave

Aritra SinghaUpdated: Saturday, October 09, 2021, 08:04 PM IST
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Representative Image | PTI

Kolkata: The list of inaugurating Durga Puja pandals is endless for the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. After inaugurating multiple pandals the only thing she insisted on was the adherence to COVID-19 protocols. However, to everyone’s surprise, pandemic protocols seemed to have gone for a toss.

Large gatherings without masks seemed to be the order of Saturday in Kolkata in both North and South Kolkata.

A section of people refused to wear masks and had several excuses to sustain their claims. Meanwhile, the West Bengal Health department had issued an advisory urging people not to take part in any gatherings including Sindur Khela and other processions.

“The sick people including aged people, children and pregnant women should strictly remain indoors to avoid complications. No one should venture outside without a mask and no one should remain in a place for long and should maintain distance,” read the state government’s health advisory.

Although several puja committees claimed that they had organised their puja abiding by the protocols issued the Calcutta High Court and state government, in many cases the organisers failed to manage the crowds or convince the revellers to wear masks.

A look into West Bengal's COVID-19 cases during the last three days reveals that on October 9, new cases were 784 and active COVID-19 cases were 7,625. On October 8, the new cases were 771 and active COVID-19 cases, 7,593 and on October 7, the new cases were 786 and active COVID-19 cases, 7,591. The graph clearly shows a small rise in active cases. Dr Sajal Biswas of Doctors’ Organisation of West Bengal says that the active cases are sure to rise.

“The rule allowing fully vaccinated people to attend 'Sindoor Khela' and 'Pushpanjali' is totally unscientific. Even after two doses, people are getting affected. Mask and social distancing are the only two ways to avoid the spread of viruses. Vaccines can only control the severity of the disease. Durga Pujas should have been totally stopped during the pandemic. The third wave is sure to hit us if we are not careful.”

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