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Drones sprinkle ‘holy water’ on crowds to protect from Covid — Analysis

Round three million persons are anticipated to attend a spiritual occasion in India amid the Omicron surge

Huge crowds of pilgrims have been flooding the delta of the Ganges river, determined to take a dip in its waters. Drones have been deployed to spray water on them and cut back crowding.

As much as three million Hindu devotees could congregate on northern India’s Sagar Island to wash within the waters of the Ganges for non secular causes, in keeping with official estimates as reported by AFP on Friday. There was already “a sea of individuals” current as worshippers gathered to mark the Makar Sankranti (or Magh Mela) pageant, a neighborhood official within the Indian State of West Bengal advised the information company, including that a lot of the pilgrims weren’t sporting masks.

Individuals from quite a few areas go to the occasion, which runs for a lot of days. Defying pandemic guidelines, they journey on crammed buses, boats, and trains to the island after which again house.

Drones are being deployed on the web site to spray water on pilgrims and cut back crowding by the river, however this doesn’t cease them from taking the precise dip within the Ganges. “They consider that God will save them and bathing on the confluence will cleanse all their sins, and even the virus if they’re contaminated,” a police official advised AFP.

In accordance with organizers, solely these with vaccination certificates and unfavorable PCR check outcomes are allowed to attend, and thermal screening has been put in place. Nevertheless, there are issues that no correct safety checks will be enforced, as these would possibly result in stampede-like conditions. “Regardless of the preparations, many devotees are taking the holy tub and flouting the restrict of fifty individuals at a time, however we’re unable to stop them from doing so,” a senior official advised native media.

Almost 80 cops and cleansing personnel deployed for the pageant have examined optimistic for coronavirus, AP reported on Friday. “That is going to be a superspreader,” a lawyer who has petitioned a courtroom to cancel the pageant, Utkarsh Mishra, mentioned.

Whereas public gatherings are banned in some components of the nation, the place infections with the extremely transmissible Omicron variant have been on the rise, the native authorities in West Bengal allowed the pageant this yr. The Calcutta Excessive Courtroom requested the administration to insist that devotees go for a so-called ‘e-bathing’ this time, Indian media reported. Some have utilized to obtain e-bathing kits by way of submit, however the majority needed to attend in particular person.

An analogous Hindu gathering final yr is believed to have despatched infections with the devastating Delta variant all throughout the nation. On Thursday, practically 265,000 new circumstances of coronavirus have been recorded, with some estimates suggesting the numbers would possibly surge to 800,000 in only a few weeks’ time.

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