Kerala

COVID-19 sparks fireworks ahead of Thrissur Pooram

The surge in cases in the second wave of COVID-19 has cast a shadow over Thrissur Pooram.

The test positivity rate in Thrissur has been increasing rapidly. The current rate has crossed 20% and 1,780 cases reported on a single day on Sunday. The rate, which had gone above 22% in October and November last year, was brought to 1.7% by the end of March this year.

“The rate has been increasing very fast in the district. Violation of COVID-19 protocols during the election campaign contributed to the spike. Unlike during the first wave, this time, many of the COVID-19 patients developed breathlessness and had to be admitted in the ICU or put under ventilator support,” said DMO K.J Reena.

She urged the public to maintain COVID-19 protocols and get vaccinated as early as possible.

The authorities are worried about controlling the huge crowd expected for the Thrissur Pooram. With its quality percussion ensemble, caparisoned elephant parades, colourful processions, and eye-catching fireworks, the Pooram invites teeming crowds.

Meeting today

Considering the gravity of the situation, Chief Secretary V.P. Joy will convene a meeting to decide on safe conduct of Pooram on Monday.

Though COVID-negative certificates or proof of getting vaccinated twice have been made compulsory for entering Pooram venues, many are unsure about the ways to verify the certificates of all those entering the venue. Ensuring adherence to COVID-19 protocols by the crowd will be an uphill task for the police.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has urged the authorities to consider postponing festival and ceremonies. The Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), in its request to the government, has called for avoiding crowds. Gross violation of COVID-19 protocol, especially during the election campaign, had invited the strong second wave. The mutation of the virus too was contributing to the fast spread, it said.

Meanwhile Paramekkavu Devaswom, a main organiser of the Pooram, has come up with allegations against the DMO and the Collector. Paramekkavu Devaswom secretary G. Rajesh alleged a plot to sabotage the celebrations.

‘Creating panic’

“The DMO is deliberately creating panic by highlighting an exaggerated positivity rate. Many parts of the district have been declared containment zones. It is an attempt to stop people from coming to the Pooram. If this goes on, the entire district will be a containment zone before Pooram,” he said.

The Paramekkavu Devaswom demanded constitution of a medical team, including members of its choice, to decide crowd-control measures. The Devaswoms protested against the decision to make RT-PCR tests mandatory for mahouts. They also objected to the government move to make vaccine-taken certificates compulsory for attendees.

The Pooram was conducted with only a few rituals last year.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 7:07:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/covid-19-sparks-fireworks-ahead-of-thrissur-pooram/article34356829.ece

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