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Coronavirus Outbreak: Mumbai Holi fades

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When Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he would not participate in any Holi events this year as experts have advised against “mass gatherings to avoid the spread of Coronavirus”, many of his followers decided to go colorless. Twenty-eight new cases of the deadly illness, which emerged in China and spread to over 60 countries in the last two months, have been reported in India in the last three days.

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Dr Kritika Sabarwal said, “When such horrible cases are around, you never know the source of spreading the virus. One should take extensive precautions. Even my advice is that the people should focus on their health’s safety; they can play Holi within their house with loved ones but not in public places.”

Experts across the World have advised to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. On the other hand, Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s tweeted and informed that he will not play Holi due to Coronavirus.

43 cases of novel Coronavirus infection have been reported in India so far, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan informed the media. Seventeen of 23 Italians who landed in Delhi last month, then travelled to Rajasthan have tested positive. One Indian, who was travelling with them has also tested positive.  Mumbai also has many cases of Coronavirus patients. Experts across Maharashtra too have advised avoiding public gatherings.

Preetesh Gupta a resident of Goregaon said, “We will be within our house with family playing dry colours as a formality.”

Reena, a resident of Dahisar said, “We are avoiding Holi this year. It’s always better to take precautions.”

Event organiser Padma Mittal told AV “We have already informed our customers that there will be no rain dance and pool parties. We are careful about hygiene and don’t want to risk anyone’s life.”

Several RWAs, apartment owners’ associations, traders’ bodies and social groups in Mumbai have already decided to cancel Holi Milan programmes and have requested residents to avoid large gatherings. Many are holding meetings to take a call on cancellation of these events.

There were some voices of displeasure too:

Mamta Mandal, resident of Borivali Mumbai said, “The Prime Minister is saying that he will not celebrate Holi. That doesn’t mean that people won’t celebrate too. The government should have rather taken strict measures to tackle this epidemic.”

Hamid Abdul a trader in Bhindi Bazar told AV “With very less time left for the festival of colours, Mumbai’s big wholesale markets including the ones in Crawford market are quiet even as there is no dearth of colours and pichkaris. The stocks usually arrive at least six-seven months in advance. By November, the market was full, but there are hardly any buyers.”

Amid the growing fear of Coronavirus, Mumbaikar have already shunned Chinese products. Besides toys and crackers, colours and pichkaris from China are hugely popular in Indian markets.

Based on the available data, there is no reason to panic;  28 cases in a country the size of India are not worrying. As for whether schools, public transport etc. are safe, the (Health) Ministry should make recommendations based on the situation. It would be different from state-to-state or city-to-city. Even in China, the graded approach worked. The kind of containment measures put in place in Hubei were not replicated everywhere. People cannot put their lives on hold nor is it necessary. Celebrate Holi, but maybe you should not celebrate it with thousands of people around. Celebrate with close family and friends, avoid big gatherings as far as possible.

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