Festive Season In Pandemic…

In the coming weeks, eastern India in particular is going to be severely tested. The carnival atmosphere during the five days of Durga Puja could well become an occasion for the mass spread of the virus, a problem that is certain to be aggravated by the imperfections in the public health infrastructure. If the worst fears turn out to be real, it will be a huge setback for national efforts to come to grips with the pandemic. The festive season is also an occasion for prayer and this year, more than ever before, the goddess needs to hear the concerns of the devotees. Fortunately, after a short experiment with total national closure — triggered, it may be added, by insufficient knowledge of the virus threat — India has tried to balance sensible precautions with the more pressing job of getting on with life. A viable balance has also been possible thanks to the rising confidence in medical cures for most Covid-19 cases. A person infected with the virus today has a far greater chance of getting cured in a fortnight than was the case last March when the pandemic first struck India. Even as scientists and policymakers argue among themselves on the strategies of prevention, the widespread panic that was in evidence six months ago has receded considerably. Alas, with greater faith in medicine, there is also a rising impatience with restrictions. This may explain why the past fortnight has witnessed a clamour for the speedy resumption of local train services that were suspended in March. The turnout in the Bihar assembly election will be an indication of the extent to which people have overcome their anxieties about Covid-19. The mood of the nation is also certain to be tested during the festive season that culminates with Diwali. The Union health minister, Harsh Vardhan, has appealed to people to be exceptionally restrained in the coming months and, preferably, desist from public festivities. His wariness stems from the post-Onam spike in Covid-19 infections in Kerala, a pattern that could be emulated in northern and eastern India during the festive season in October and November. Tripura also gears up for the upcoming festive season. But we should aware that we are the highest covid19 fatality rate owner among the northeast states.

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