Covid-19 spike feared during India’s Holi holiday

PHOTO: Wikimedia

As Covid-19 still surgess in India, many fear a sharp increase in Coronavirus infections during the Indian holiday of Holi. Infection rates just saw their sharpest increase since last October, exceeding 60,000 cases a day in the past week up from only about 10,000 in February. Many fear that the upcoming Holi holiday, where Hindus gather and revel by spraying water and coloured powder all over each other in celebration, may essentially create a super-spreader event nationwide.

Holi is a traditional celebration to mark the springtime and is celebrated widely throughout India. Usually, large outdoor celebrations take place but this year authorities are asking people to avoid festivities and stay home to protect themselves against the pandemic. This is the second year that Holi festivities were muted by the pandemic. With more than 12 million Covid-19 infections in India and over 161,000 deaths, a large celebration like Holi may lead to more infections in an already struggling nation.

The western state of Maharashtra has been seeing sharp climbs in Covid-19 infections and authorities have put in place curfews each night and travel restrictions to the area. Lockdowns may be in the near future. New Dehli and the states of Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat also face a rise in infections.

Other factors are contributing to the current Coronavirus infection rates. State elections are currently bringing large rallies and gatherings across the country. Also, many are celebrating Kumbh Mela, the pitcher festival, where throngs of people submerge themselves daily in the Ganges River in the northern city of Haridwar in an act of Hindu devotion.

Hopes that the Holi holiday does not create a new Covid-19 surge are marred by India’s troubled vaccine rollout. Health experts warn that unless vaccinations are accelerated India may still be in trouble. The country has vaccinated around 60 million people so far but only 9 million have received their second dose.

In a country of 1.3 billion that leaves a long way to go. India has faced scrutiny and criticism after exporting more than 60 million doses of the vaccine manufactured domestically while the Indian population is still in dire need. The government pledged not to increase exporting and state that starting April 1st vaccines will be given to everyone older than 45 years old.

The Thaiger’s full Covid-19 coverage can be found here.


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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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