A million set to throng India's Ganges for holy dip despite Covid-19

11/1/2022 3:00:00 PM

A million set to throng India's Ganges for holy dip despite Covid-19

India, Covid-19

A million set to throng India 's Ganges for holy dip despite Covid-19

KOLKATA — Nearly one million Hindu worshippers are expected to gather on the banks of the Ganges river this Friday (Jan 14) and Saturday for a holy bathe despite galloping Covid-19 infections across the country, an official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Most infected people have recovered at home and the level of hospitalisations has been less than half of that seen during the last major wave of infections in April and May.Many states have announced night curfews while the capital Delhi has also imposed a weekend lockdown, closed private offices as well as restaurants and bars in a bid to rein in the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

But tens of thousands of pilgrims have already reached the site of the annual Ganges ritual on an island in the eastern state of West Bengal, which is reporting the most number of cases in the country after Maharashtra state in the west."The crowd may swell to anywhere between 800,000 to one million. We are trying to implement all Covid-19 protocols," Mr Bankim Chandra Hazra, a West Bengal minister in charge of organising the festival known as the Gangasagar Mela, told Reuters.

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Best of luck to India with a million throngs at the Ganges. Assuredly, there will be record breaking of Covid-19 new cases and deaths. Is that wisdom?

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India reported 168,063 new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday, a 20-fold rise in a month.Copy to clipboard https://str.Copy to clipboard https://str.Copy to clipboard https://str.

Most infected people have recovered at home and the level of hospitalisations has been less than half of that seen during the last major wave of infections in April and May. Many states have announced night curfews while the capital Delhi has also imposed a weekend lockdown, closed private offices as well as restaurants and bars in a bid to rein in the fast-spreading Omicron variant. But the local assembly elections in five states , representing a population of about 250 million, would proceed as planned starting in February, the commission said. But tens of thousands of pilgrims have already reached the site of the annual Ganges ritual on an island in the eastern state of West Bengal, which is reporting the most number of cases in the country after Maharashtra state in the west. The relaxed visa rule is yet another attempt by Thailand to restart its travel industry as the emergence of the Omicron variant triggers a new wave of Covid infections. "The crowd may swell to anywhere between 800,000 to one million. The major urban centres of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata have been hit hardest. We are trying to implement all Covid-19 protocols," Mr Bankim Chandra Hazra, a West Bengal minister in charge of organising the festival known as the Gangasagar Mela, told Reuters. The United States is facing a surge in infections caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant and on Monday had 132,646 people hospitalised with Covid, surpassing the record of 132,051 set in January 2021.

"We have also arranged for sprinkling of the holy water from drones so that there is no crowding . "Political parties and candidates are advised to conduct their campaign as much as possible through digital and virtual media platforms," Mr Chandra said Saturday. "The suspension came during the peak travel season so the impact on the sector is quite significant... About half of the more than 180 million eligible voters across the five states are fully vaccinated, and more than 80 per cent have received one dose, he said. but the sadhus (Hindu holy men) are bent on taking the dip. "The emergence of new variants and subsequent border controls, both in Thailand and elsewhere, poses a risk" to Thailand's tourist arrival estimates and growth, Ms Juliana Lee, an economist with Deutsche Bank AG, said in a report Monday. We can't prevent them. Scientists are concerned that a repeat of that pattern in the coming weeks could coincide with preparations for elections. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, China and the United States have sparred over air services.

" A similar big religious festival in the north of India last year helped spread the Delta variant that infected millions of people and killed tens of thousands. The Calcutta High Court, responding to a plea from doctors who are worried the festival could become a virus"super spreader" event, ruled on Tuesday that all pilgrims must be tested for Covid-19. The true number of infections was probably undercounted in official data as a large number of the infected people were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms and did not test." The resort island of Phuket, which was the first Thai province to waive mandatory quarantine for immunised travelers from July 1, is currently grappling with its biggest surge in daily cases since the pandemic began, with about 60 per cent of its hospital beds occupied. It was not immediately clear how so many pilgrims could be tested over the next few days or if the ruling would be enforced. Doctors had appealed to the court to reverse the decision to allow the festival this year. Nationwide, nearly one in every 10 tests is returning positive. Dr Bhramar Mukherjee, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, has said the gathering could be"disastrous". We're now adding capacity for travellers to isolate in hotel rooms," said Mr Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association." A long-standing US-China air agreement allows the countries to operate over 100 weekly flights between the two nations but only a fraction of those are currently operating.

Every year on Jan 14, on the important Hindu day of Makar Sankranti, pilgrims visit Gangasagar village for a dip at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal. Fewer patients appear to be requiring hospitalisation, compared with the spring wave. They believe doing so washes away their sins and those of their ancestors. India has reported a total of 35. New Delhi remained locked down for the weekend, as security forces operated a strict curfew. On Tuesday, Thailand reported 7,133 new cases.88 million Covid-19 infections, the world's biggest tally after the United States. Deaths rose by 277 to 484,213 on Monday. In Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, officials moved to impose movement restrictions Sunday.

India conducted 1.6 million Covid-19 tests on Monday, while the capacity is more than 2 million. More On This Topic. It has dropped the need for all close contacts of confirmed patients to get tested. REUTERS Related topics .