Chithirai Thiruvizha, Madurai, Meenakshi Amman Temple, Meenakshi Sundareswara temple
One of the grandest of festivals in Tamil Nadu, the Chithirai Thiruvizha associated with Meenakshi Sundareswara temple, this time has been cancelled | PTI Photo

COVID third wave imminent; don’t allow mass gatherings: IMA warns Centre

The Indian Medical Association told the Centre a third wave is inevitable and imminent, and that festival gatherings must be strictly avoided

Cautioning the Central and state governments that a third wave of COVID is “inevitable and imminent”, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Monday urged them to not allow any kind of mass gatherings or festival celebrations.

In a written appeal to the governments — that was shared as a press release on Twitter — IMA President JA Jayalal and Honorary Secretary General Jayesh M Lele said the Centre has to reconsider its decision to relax restrictions.

“Holding any festival is not advisable as it can be dangerous. IMA requests the government to reconsider their decision regarding any kind of mass gatherings,” Jayalal told news agency ANI.

No room for complacency

“With the global evidence available and the history of any pandemic, the third wave is inevitable and imminent. However, it is painful to note that in many parts of the country, both the government and public are complacent and engaged in mass gatherings without following COVID protocols,” the IMA said in the press release.

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“Tourist bonanza, pilgrimage travel, religious fervour all are needed, but can wait for a few more months. Opening up these rituals and enabling people without vaccination to go scot-free in these mass gatherings are potential super spreaders for the COVID third wave,” it said.

A News18 report recalled that last month, the Himachal Pradesh government eased COVID curbs, following which tourists — mostly from Delhi-NCR — made a beeline to hill stations such as Shimla, Kullu-Manali and Dharamsala.

There have been social media shares of videos showing people — with little regard for masking or social distancing — thronging the markets of Manali and Nainital.

Conducting of yatras

Last week, the Uttarakhand government decided to review its decision to stop all Kanwar Yatra devotees from entering the state, said News18. Medical experts cautioned against this move as well, recalling the surge in COVID cases after the Kumbh Mela that was held in the state earlier this year.

Most recently, Puri and Ahmedabad conducted the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath.

The economic loss suffered by avoiding such festivities are far outweighed by the impact of COVID on the economy, the IMA noted. Going by the experience of the past one-and-a-half years, the impact of the third wave can be mitigated by ensuring universal vaccination and following COVID-appropriate behaviour, it added.

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