Lakshmi Puja Covid safety alert in Darjeeling
Preliminary data on Covid-19 cases during the past few days has made health officials ring an alert in Darjeeling district ahead of the upcoming Lakshmi Puja and advise priests to undergo Covid tests before they move out and perform puja in various households.
Lakshmi Puja will be celebrated on October 30.
According to senior officials of the health department, there has been a rise in the number of cases in Darjeeling district during Durga Puja days.
From October 15 to 21, 722 people in the district got infected with the pathogen among whom 393 were from Siliguri, said a health official.
However, during the five days of Durga Puja, that is, from October 22 to 26, the total number of new Covid patients was 593 in the district. Among them, 335 were from Siliguri, the official added.
“The numbers are an indication that people should stay away from crowded areas and public places. Random testing (to assess the spread of Covid) has started from Wednesday and we are waiting for the reports to know more about the trend,” the official added.
Sushanta Roy, the officer on special duty (OSD) deputed in north Bengal for Covid-19, said he was aware of the numbers.
“It is high time that people in this district, particularly Siliguri, strictly adhere to the safety protocols during the upcoming Lakshmi Puja,” Roy said. “This puja is held almost in every second household. Markets get crammed with people ahead of the puja and there is always a risk of infection. People should take all safety measures while going to markets,” said Roy.
On Lakshmi Puja day, hundreds of priests go to multiple households to perform the puja, which is also a matter of concern this year, Roy said.
“Those calling priests for the puja at home should ensure that all health safety protocols are maintained. Also, we would like to advise the priests that before puja day, they should get themselves tested to confirm that they are Covid negative. Otherwise, they can be prospective transmitters of the contagion,” Roy added.