West Bengal: Night-long Durga Puja pandal-hopping to start today amid sharp spike in Covid-19 cases
On Sunday, 3,983 new Covid-19 cases were reported from across the state, including 813 in Kolkata alone. This is the maximum number of viral outbreak cases recorded in the state and the city on a single dayUpdated: Oct 19, 2020, 09:31 IST
Overnight Durga Puja pandal-hopping is expected to start from Monday amid warning by doctors that the number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases could spike up to four times after the festive season, if restrictions are relaxed by the West Bengal government.
“Revellers can visit puja pandals in the evening from Tritiya to Ekadashi,” West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier said while urging pandal-hoppers and puja organisers to avoid crowding.
While Tritiya falls on Monday, Ekadashi will be observed on October 27.
Durga Puja, the biggest festival in the state, starts from Friday (October 23).
However, most of the big pujas in Kolkata and its suburbs have been inaugurated by CM Banerjee herself.
The festivities come amid West Bengal reporting a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases since people started shopping for the festive season and crowding around marketplaces.
On Sunday, 3,983 new Covid-19 cases were reported from across the state, including 813 in Kolkata alone. This is the maximum number of viral outbreak cases recorded in the state and the city on a single day.
The positivity rate has increased from 6.6% on September 5 to 9.1% on October 18 in Bengal.
Social media is flooded with pictures and videos of pandal hoppers in Kolkata and its suburbs.
Earlier, the members of Joint Platform of Doctors had expressed concern about an uptick in Covid-19 cases, which could lead to a “tsunami of the viral infection” and might see a four-fold rise in the contagion, and had drawn CM Banerjee’s attention to the disconcerting trend.
They had cited the examples of Kerala, where Covid-19 cases had increased after the annual Onam festival, which was celebrated at the end of August.
A similar situation was also reported from Spain following the International Women’s Day celebrations and the staging of a football match.
Over 37,000 community pujas are being held across Bengal, including more than 2,500 in Kolkata. Around 1,700 pujas are being organised by women in the state.
However, the list doesn’t include pujas that are being held in housing societies and individual households.
The Calcutta high court (HC) has asked the state government to submit a plan on Monday about how the authorities would plan to curb overcrowding during Durga puja festivities.
The HC asked for the plan while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL). The state government has assured the court that the police were working on strategies to control overcrowding at puja pandals and public places.
“Face masks have been made mandatory and pandal hoppers are being given hand sanitisers. Volunteers are ensuring that social distancing is being complied with at puja pandals,” said Saswata Basu, general secretary, Forum for Durgotsab, an umbrella organisation of some of the biggest Durga pujas in Kolkata.