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Covid Bomb ticking in U’khand- is anyone listening?

Holi, Kumbh & Jhanda fair could provide the necessary triggers for the second wave of Covid-19. Cases to peak during the second fortnight of April, suggest experts.

Considering the festival of Holi, Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and upcoming Jhanda fair in Dehradun coupled with the general carelessness being observed by the public towards Covid appropriate behaviour, the state of Uttarakhand could virtually be sitting over a Covid-19 bomb.

 The number of cases of the disease in the state is already witnessing an upsurge and with three factors of the festival of Holi , Kumbh and Jhanda fair the experts believe that the state could witness the second Covid-19 peak in the second fortnight of April. The state had experienced the first peak of Covid-19 on September 19 last year when the state health department had reported 2078 cases in a day. The week from September 13 to September 19 last year recorded a staggering 9749 cases of Covid-19.

The natives of Uttarakhand working in different parts of the country have started returning to their homes in large numbers to celebrate Holi which is on March 28 and 29. One should remember that it was the returnees who brought the virus of Covid-19 in Uttarakhand during lockdown and took it to every village of the state last year. The experts believe that with conducive weather conditions and increased socialising during the festival of Holi could provide the required impetus for the second wave of pandemic in the state. Further the famous Jhanda fair is commencing in Dehradun from April 2. In the fair, large numbers of devotees especially from Punjab arrive in Dehradun. Punjab incidentally is the state which is experiencing the second wave of Covid-19 and the devotees from the state could bring this wave to Uttarakhand.

The biggest threat to the state is from Kumbh in Haridwar where crores of devotees are expected to congregate to take a dip in the holy Ganga. Three Shahi Snans are slated to be held in the month of April during Kumbh. Though the state government has resolved to follow the SOPs of the union government and the directive of the High Court (HC) on compulsion of the RT-PCR negative report there would be a major challenge to get these SOPs and court’s order implemented during Kumbh.

The founder of the Social Development for Communities (SDC) foundation, Anoop Nautiyal said that based on the past experience, the festival of Holi, Kumbh in Haridwar and Jhanda fair and recent increase in number of cases one can assume that Uttarakhand could witness second peak during third or fourth week of April.

The former Director General (DG) state health services, Dr Amita Upreti who spearheaded the department during the peak of Covid-19 told The Pioneer that state administration should remain prepared and should implement the strategy adopted during July to September last year to combat the disease.
When contacted the in-charge of the Covid-19 control room, Dr Abhishek Tripathi told The Pioneer that it is too early to make any prediction about another spurt or peak in the number of cases of Covid-19 in the state. He said that the department is prepared for the challenge and the number of tests in Haridwar are being increased in view of Kumbh. 

Sunday, 28 March 2021 | Gajendra SIngh Negi | Dehradun

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