Ahead of Diwali, which will be celebrated under the shadow of the pandemic, the Maharashtra government on Friday issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to contain the spread of COVID-19. Diwali will be celebrated between November 13 (Dhanteras) and November 16 (Bhai Dooj).
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government has urged citizens to avoid bursting crackers to curb noise and air pollution which could pose a problem for coronavirus patients. A government release appealed for subdued celebration of Diwali, like that of other festivals since the virus outbreak. Social distancing norms should be followed, the guidelines reminded.
The state government guidelines said: "Those affected by COVID-19 are likely to be troubled directly due to the air pollution caused by bursting of firecrackers. Considering this, people should avoid bursting firecrackers this year. Instead, they can light lamps on a big scale and celebrate the festival."
Senior citizens and children in particular should avoid stepping out of home during the festival period, the state government release said. Events should be organised through online platforms instead of holding physical gatherings, the government said. Instead of cultural programs, priority should be given to health initiatives and awareness campaigns, it said.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra's COVID-19 tally on Thursday crossed the 17 lakh-mark after it recorded 5,246 fresh cases, while more than 11,000 patients recovered from the infection.
With the addition of the new cases in the last 24 hours, the state's COVID-19 tally rose to 17,03,444. The state also reported 117 more deaths, taking the fatality count to 44,804.
A total of 11,277 patients were discharged during the day, taking the tally of recovered people to 15,51,282. With this, the number of active cases in the state dropped to 1,06,519.