India’s Diwali celebrations draw large crowds despite Covid concerns


Hundreds of thousands of people traveled to India this week as the country prepared to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights and one of the country’s main holidays on Thursday.

Bazaars and malls across India filled with shoppers as India reported its lowest number of daily coronavirus cases since February. The crowded stages contrasted sharply with last year’s festival, which had been observed without the usual fanfare of prayers and fireworks. A year ago, authorities deployed police to residential areas to restrict large gatherings and group prayers.

This year the festival seemed to be in full swing, sparking a mass movement of Indian migrant workers from towns and villages to their villages to celebrate with the family.

More than 680,000 people flew from airports across the country on Monday in the run-up to the festival, according to government officials. The increase in trafficking was an apparent sign of confidence in the country’s vaccination campaign, which has successfully administered more than a billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine, with 54% of the population having received at least one injection and 25% fully vaccinated, according to the Our World in Data Project at the University of Oxford.

But health experts have warned that large-scale gatherings could still turn into large-scale events and fuel a new wave of coronavirus infections, especially as tourism hotspots across the country teem with visitors. .

Dr Hemant Thacker, who works as a doctor in Mumbai, the financial capital of India, said he was concerned about the relaxed attitude.

“We have to be very careful with masks and avoid large gatherings,” he said.

India has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world, recording around 35 million cases and more than 450,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the real numbers are almost certainly much higher.

India’s Ministry of Health on Thursday reported 12,885 new cases of the coronavirus, with 461 deaths in the past 24 hours. In May, the number of new daily cases peaked at more than 400,000, with more than 4,000 deaths a day, according to figures from Johns Hopkins.

More news from around the world:

  • Germany on Wednesday recorded 33,949 new cases of coronavirus over a 24-hour period, surpassing a record set in mid-December 2020, as the country was in the grip of its second wave of Covid. The vaccine refusal appears to have fueled infection hotspots in several districts this week, such as Munich in the south, where the case rate has risen to more than 500 cases per 100,000 people per week.

  • Thousands of vaccine skeptics marched through the streets of Trieste, Italy, two weeks ago. Now Trieste is in the throes of a Covid outbreak directly linked to these protests, which threatens to weigh on intensive care units, usher in new social distancing restrictions and tarnish a city’s reputation.

  • Officials of Hong Kong said on Wednesday that from November 11, the city will offer free additional doses of Covid vaccines to residents at higher risk of serious illness. Some people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, patients with advanced HIV, and people taking active immunosuppressive drugs, will be eligible for additional injections four weeks after their second dose. Hong Kong officials said in a statement.

  • South Korea said on Thursday he would even hospitalize asymptomatic high school students with Covid if they took the country’s high-stakes college entrance exam later this month as the campaign to vaccinate young people delays and adolescents make up almost a quarter of all Covid patients.

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