NEW DELHI: As millions across the nation gear up for the festival of colours on March 29, health experts on Sunday warned that Holi can become a "super spreader" if people flout all the COVID-19 rules, amid wild celebrations. The warning comes at a time when Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Telangana and Jammu and Kashmir have reported a high active caseload in recent days. Even Delhi has witnessed the highest spike in new COVID infections in nearly 35 days.
According to health experts, the current scenario doesn't allow Indians to attend social gatherings or community meetings, as cases are still rising and new COVID strains have been identified in India.
"In this situation, we cannot become complacent and drop our guard, else the cases can rise exponentially in the coming weeks. We should avoid all sorts of social gathering, especially around Holi, as social distancing norms are usually not followed at such gatherings," said Richa Sareen, Senior Consultant, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.
"Let's not forget, that COVID is not over as yet," she said. Rather than focusing on the proclamations and assumptions, people need to aim at precautionary measures and plan Holi, to be celebrated on March 29, accordingly.
"As far as Holi is concerned, it is more about community celebration and affinity that we as human share with each other. Hence, it may trigger an increase in active cases at a faster rate in regard to the current prevailing situation," said Animesh Arya, Senior consultant in Respiratory Medicine, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi.
Eighteen states, including Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana, are under the scanner of the central agency for disease surveillance and prevention as these regions have added close to 200 cases of COVID-19 strain from the UK, South Africa and Brazilian variants of SARS-CoV-2.
Amid the surge in coronavirus cases, Delhi has made it mandatory for people travelling from Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab to get a negative COVID-19 report before entering.
"The new strains appear to be more infectious than the SARS CoV2 strain, so it spreads more easily. No data is available on the severity of these strains, as yet and we will get to know in the coming days," Sareen noted. The experts emphasised that unprecedented lockdown, prolonged fear of infection have already added to people's stress, but adequate precautions are still needed. "During Holi, check local advisory in your area and follow them. Greet people with an open heart but avoid shaking hands and hugging each other. Wear masks follow COVID appropriate behaviour," Arya added. (IANS)