COVID scare forgotten amid scramble for firecrackers

People who thronged a firecracker shop in Kozhikode on the eve of Vishu.  

Firecracker shops in the district emerged as the most vulnerable spots where COVID-19 protocol was thrown to the wind by shoppers and vendors on the eve of Vishu. Those who cashed in on the brisk trade with makeshift arrangements doubled the risk, where buyers thronged in large numbers flouting physical-distancing norms.

“No checking mechanism was in place as all were seemingly in a hurry to get the stock. There were no squads or the police to enforce safety rules and control the rush,” said a senior citizen from Varakkal who returned home after seeing the unhealthy rush at a shop near West Hill. He said the situation was almost the same everywhere when he sought the help of friends outside the city to safely purchase crackers.

Though police patrol vehicles were found covering many such crowded locations in the city, no shop owner was asked to stop the business for violating health protocol. Along with licensed traders, there were many locals who cashed in on the opportunity with the stock they secured from Tamil Nadu.

In many locations, late-night trade was entertained without any restriction. Many of such shops located along national and State highways were found attracting large numbers of passers-by and creating a festival-like ambiance. In Koyilandy, Balussery and Vadakara areas, the police were found enforcing rules for general traders and giving a free hand to traders of consumer fireworks.

Doubling the risk, no shops tried to keep a record of people who purchased products from them. It would be a difficult task to track the primary contacts of patients in case of a mass spread. Though some of the shops reportedly kept manual registers, only very few used it properly.

Sources with the Health Department said the alleged laxity had already been reported to the attention of the district administration.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 5:52:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/covid-scare-forgotten-amid-scramble-for-firecrackers/article34350191.ece

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