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.
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