They vow not to allow foreigners to admit without fear of rising COVID cases
As fears of a rise in COVID-19 cases due to Durga Puja celebrations overtake Kolkata more, at least three crowded neighborhoods have announced that foreigners will not be allowed on their pandals this year.
As neighborhoods strive to outdo each other in terms of decoration and themes, pandal dance is an integral part of five-day celebrations, involving the movement of hundreds of thousands of people. At the time of the pandemic, pandal jumping can be very dangerous for a city like Kolkata, where people are already shopping for Puja in large numbers.
Indifference from the State government and the public is also making doctors constantly appeal to Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee to ensure content. Under the umbrella of the Joint Doctors’ Platform, they once again issued a statement on Friday saying that since they had not received any response from either the Prime Minister or the Secretary-General for their prayers, they again appealed to all political parties and committees of puja to protect the content.
We even filed an online petition with 15,000 signatories. But despite our calls, preparations for Puja and shopping are in full swing. It is not as if interested people are not able to assess the risk, but they are simply turning a blind eye and instead are doing everything possible to increase enthusiasm, doctors’ bodies said.
They stressed that if there was an increase in the number of infections, hospitals would quickly run out of beds and fans, even human resources, and that the authorities needed to act while there was still time.
Not everyone is ignoring their calls. Puja in Santosh Mitra Square in the heart of Kolkata, which attracts a massive crowd, has decided to keep their pandal out of bounds for visitors. Given the COVID-19 situation, [we have] took a radical decision. Only people from our neighborhood will be allowed entry. This is a difficult decision, but we believe that a festival could not be more valuable than human lives, its organizers said in a statement.
Two other well-known parks Pujas Jodhpur south of Kolkata and Debdaru Phatak in Behala have also decided to ban the entry of foreigners.
Considering that the elections for the Assembly are only six months away, the State government, apparently, does not want to make any move to soften the festive spirit. If anything, he certainly observed the election of 50,000 each for each Puja committee in West Bengal, a decision that is being questioned by the Calcutta High Court.
We have warned the State government and political parties. Since they did not pay attention to our appeal, the blame for the immediate increase in COVID-19 cases will be on them, said Dr. Punyabrata Goon of the Common Doctor Platform. Ultimately, doctors and other health care workers will have to bear the burden of treating the patient.
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