DDMA Meeting: Experts Suggested Muted Festival Celebration Over Third Wave Fear

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Amid apprehension of a third Covid wave in Delhi, experts suggested to avoid mass gatherings and celebrate the festivals in a scaled down manner, according to the minutes of a DDMA meeting last month. Though the Covid situation in Delhi has improved significantly in the national capital, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) prohibited public celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi last week.

Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul has emphasised that a narrative for celebrating festivals in a “simple manner” should be started as these events can easily reverse all the gains made in the fight against the Covid pandemic, according to the minutes of the DDMA meeting held last month. He mentioned that citizens must be prepared to celebrate the coming festivals in a simple way. “A third wave of Covid, most of the experts believe, could be in October-November, which falls during the festival season,” he said.

Recently, several organising committees in a meeting decided to hold Ramleelas in public grounds. They, however, said that a final decision in this regard has to be made by the DDMA. In its order on Wednesday, regarding prohibited and allowed activities in Delhi till September 30 in view of Covid, the DDMA did not mention any relaxation for organising Ramleelas. Several festivals including Dusshera, Diwali and Chhath puja fall in the coming months. According to experts, the festival season coincides loosely with a possible third wave of Covid.

Last year, the Delhi government had prohibited the celebration of Chhath at the Gghats of Yamuna and other water bodies to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Balram Bhargava, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), observed in the DDMA meeting that the use of masks by the community at large must be encouraged. He further suggested that “mass gatherings, by all means, must be discouraged”, and if such a gathering is to be permitted, prior vaccination should be ensured. Chief Secretary Vijay Dev observed that though the situation was “comfortable” in Delhi, there was a need to exercise caution and follow all health protocols. Dr Randeep Guleria, the director of Delhi’s AIIMS, emphasised that the push for COVID-appropriate behaviour must be continued.

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