- Holi, the festival of colours will be celebrated on March 28 and 29
- Experts suggest celebrating Holi with core family members, at home only
- Experts fear a rise in COVID-19 cases following public gatherings on Holi
New Delhi: With a steady rise in the Coronavirus cases in India, the country is witnessing the early second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) believes there are three reasons behind the surge in COVID-19 cases – a loss of COVID appropriate behaviour; laxity in the basic principle of testing, tracking, and isolating than what we were doing six months ago; virus mutation and some of the variants being more infectious. The COVID-19 disease is set to dampen the spirit of Holi, the festival of colours, to be celebrated on March 29. Experts believe that celebrating festivals, especially one like Holi, for which people gather, smear each other in colours and party, can result in a further increase in the COVID-19 cases. NDTV spoke to a host of experts to understand if one should celebrate Holi this year and how.
Dr Manjusha Agarwal, Senior Consultant- Internal Medicine at Global Hospital in Mumbai suggested against any kind of celebrations this year on Holi. She said, we are officially in the second wave of COVID-19; India is the third worst affected country by the total number of COVID-19 cases, amid this, there should be no question of whether to celebrate or not. Dr Agarwal who has been on COVID duty for a year now, said,
As COVID warriors we have seen a steep rise in COVID cases lately; a lot of people are coming in sick and requiring oxygen. Currently, we are in the same position where we were last year. Just because there are no serious restrictions like lockdown, people do not understand the severity, but the second wave is a result of people lowering their guards, socialising and not following COVID precautionary measures – hand hygiene, wearing a face mask and practising social distancing. Celebrations are for fun and enjoyment but not at the cost of the health of you and your family.
Dr Agarwal added that though we have vaccines against COVID-19 disease, the novel coronavirus is still there and transmissible and causing infection. Any kind of celebration at the moment is very high risk behaviour on people’s part.
Dr Indraneel Raut, Additional Director, Critical Care Medicine at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai resonated with Dr Agarwal. He said,
Holi, the festival of colours involve close physical contact and we have seen that be it any kind of social gathering, people tend to drop their guards and flout COVID norms. If you say that I will wear a mask to protect myself and play Holi, I will say, what if your mask gets wet? The efficacy of the mask goes for a toss as and when it gets damp. Also, we don’t know for how long the virus survives on colours.
Dr Raut added that if there are young children in the house who wish to celebrate the festival, it should be done within the four walls of the house with core family members only. Do not invite people for a Holi party, he added.
In early March 2020, when COVID-19 was spreading its wings in India and a lockdown was yet to be imposed, some people did celebrate Holi. Talking about how Holi this year is different and why it should not be marked with great pomp and show, Dr Manoj Sharma, Senior Consultant, Internal medicine, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, said,
Last year, around this time, only people who had travelled abroad were testing positive for COVID-19 so gatherings in public places were avoided and celebration with near and dear ones provided no one has symptoms was allowed. This year, as we know, COVID is spreading again and there are various mutations that are more transmissible.
In the light of the COVID surge, various states and Union Territories including Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Gujarat and Odisha have barred public celebration of Holi as public gatherings can turn out to be super spreader events. On March 23, Uttar Pradesh government issued a detailed advisory that calls for Holi leave for students upto class 8 from March 24-31; aggressive contact tracing; testing 25-30 contacts of a COVID-19 positive patient within 48 hours; carrying out Holi processions only after permission from the government.
Talking about if such restrictions will prove to be a boon, Dr Manoj Sharma said,
Definitely as it is difficult to control a large population. Putting up restrictions is in the best interest of all.
Dr Indraneel Raut also called short-term restrictions as one of the solutions to fight COVID-19, especially during festivals. He said,
People tend to violate rules under the ambit of, ‘I have got the vaccine, I won’t get the COVID-19’ or ‘I have already got COVID-19 in the past so I’m safe’. One day of curfew will help.
Dr Manjusha Agarwal also said gatherings and socialisation should be avoided until everyone or a large chunk of the population is vaccinated which will happen in a year. She asked, “Why can’t we wait for a year?”
While signing off, Dr Manoj Sharma shared a word of advice and said,
Ideally, we all should stay home this Holi. It’s difficult but we will have enough Holi to celebrate if we remain healthy.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.[corona_data_new]