Published On: Tue, Mar 10th, 2020

Coronavirus dampens Holi festival

New Delhi: With India’s number of confirmed virus cases rising on Monday to 45, the government has upped screening on international arrivals and issued advisory notices – via social media, newspaper adverts and automated messages preceding all mobile phone calls – warning the public to maintain good hygiene, avoid large crowds and remain vigilant of symptoms.

The coronavirus has infected as many as 45 in India, no death has been reported.

The health ministry has stopped short of explicitly banning Holi celebrations, but senior government figures are leading by example.

Prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted last week that he would not take part in any Holi gatherings given that “experts across the world have advised to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of Covid-19”.

Holi’s emphasis on large crowds and close personal contact has made the timing of the festival this year “really quite alarming” for public health officials going to great lengths to prevent coronavirus from spreading.

Playing Holi means what? This festival is about giving colour to each other. That means you will come in close contact – generally you put colour on other people’s faces. The very fundamental nature of the festival goes against the advisories.

The central government is recommending people restrict Holi celebrations to small groups, ideally just family members who they are spending most of their time around anyway.

And at-risk groups in particular – the old and those with pre-existing health conditions – are being urged not to head outside on Tuesday.

The message is stay away, stay indoors because you cannot tell kids not to touch anybody, it isn’t going to work. The best advice is that, if it is at all possible, you shouldn’t go out.

Stay at home, and eat lots of good food to compensate.

Don’t let this coronavirus dampen the mood of the festival, there are other ways to enjoy it.


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