Kolkata seems to be failing where Mumbai succeeded in the rigorous implementation of the corona protocol during Ganesh festival. With lakhs of frenzied pandal hoppers hitting the Kolkata streets amid pandemic times, the doctors of the eastern metro fear a revival of the disease in Bengal soon after the Durga Puja.
The administration’s lenient execution of the corona protocol framed by the Calcutta High Court tends to push up the fear. Dr RK Patra, a senior physician, warned, “If the positivity percentage goes beyond 5 per cent, then the administration will certainly have to think about re-imposing lockdown in some way or the other”.
This even as a senior doctor of the Calcutta Medical College, the oldest such hospital in Asia, said how before Maha Panchami day the infectivity rate in Bengal was in the vicinity of 1.75 per cent which had crossed 2.53 by the end of Maha Saptami day.
While the infectibility rate remain more or less static, it is showing upward swing in Kolkata and adjacent North 24 Parganas which forms the part of greater Kolkata, thanks to the increasing crowd of pandal hoppers who have been cramming the sidewalks.
Though in the districts Puja starts on Maha Sashthi day in Kolkata --- thanks to the early inauguration spree of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee --- the festivities start from Tritiya or even earlier.
With this year being no exception, the revellers have been thronging the pandals in thousands 24x7. “Like every year this year too we are seeing the teeming people walking miles down the streets throughout the night and day … which is not a good news for the minders of pandemic … why don’t the people understand the fallout .. why do they want to invite another wave …As doctors we are issuing a strong warning … the people must exercise utmost caution or else they would be in trouble …” said Dr Abhijeet Chowdhury one of the nodal officers of the State Government.
The Calcutta High Court had in 2020 banned Puja hopping in a roundabout manner not only limiting entry but also directing the police to keep people 30-metre away from the pandals.
Though the High Court has retained the same order unlike last year, the police have not been asked to report compliance leading to laxity, lawyers said.