India Coronavirus Dispatch: Country gears up for festivities amid pandemic

Wednesday saw one of the biggest declines in India’s active cases since the pandemic hit
Rajasthan clinics: In southern Rajasthan’s non-profit clinics, a spike in tuberculosis and child malnutrition is being witnessed. A large number of these patients are migrant families. In the tribal districts of Rajasthan the official number of notifications of new TB cases have decreased even as some clinics continue to treat a higher number of these patients. Post-lockdown, a lot of these patients could not avail treatment. A rise in child malnutrition following depleting food availability has also been a major cause for concern. What has been most overwhelming, however, is the spread of Covid to the rural parts of the state. Much of this spurt is on account of migration from cities where most people are employed in places like construction sites which act as super spreaders. Read more here

Delhi’s Durga Puja: This year, the lead-up to Durga Puja celebrations in Delhi bears no resemblance to festivities seen previously. There are no crowds, no large pandals, no artisans and no food stalls. The restrictions put in place due to the pandemic mean that the celebrations will be a dull fair compared to the extravagance of the past. District authorities say they’ll be deploying volunteers to ensure there’s compliance to Covid norms. In CR Park — the hub of festivities — only two of the nine pandal spots will see idols with others resorting to Kalash Pujas. The decision was taken keeping in mind the fact that most organisers are senior citizens. The number of people allowed to enter at one go in some pandals will be 15. Virtual darshan is another aspect to make its debut. Read more here

Delhi’s Ramlilas: At one of the few Ramlila performances in Delhi, ‘covid-consciousness’ is palpable among the audience. Performers and organisers say that all precautions have been taken to ensure there’s no spread of the virus. Performers began rehearsing online for the big event since July. The organisers had decided that if there is no permission for the event then the Ramlila will published on YouTube. All costumes and accessories, they say, were sanitised before use. Further, all performers underwent Covid tests twice before the event. Face masks and temperature screening are mandatory for those attending the performance. A high level of trust among performers and between the organisers and actors has ensured that the show has run smooth so far. Read more here

In Numbers

Active cases drop: Wednesday saw one of the biggest declines in India’s active cases since the pandemic hit. The day saw 56,000 new cases while almost 80,000 patients were declared to have recovered. Nearly half of this dip came from Maharashtra. The number of active cases in the state have declined from over 300,000 to less than 160,000 now. However, the biggest drop has happened in Andhra Pradesh which has seen its active cases dip by nearly 70 per cent in the last month and a half. In fact, active cases have declined in every major state except Delhi and West Bengal. The reduction in active cases holds true for Kerala despite it being the fastest growing state. There have been just five days since September 17 when detection of new cases has exceeded the number of people recovering. Read more here


Festivals amid Covid: PM Modi recently appealed against any weakening of the fight against the pandemic. This appeal comes after some gains made in the recent past and with the annual festive season around the corner. What complicates matters is non-standardised system of testing and tracing across different states. The editorial argues that health messaging can be effective only if it’s not drowned out by constant repeated emphasis on the large number of recoveries that the country is seeing. The government has also been stressing on effective communication strategies that highlight the importance of prevention. The festive season will be the major test of the efficacy of this strategy. Read more here

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