Diwali covidAIIMS Director, Bhopal, Sarman Singh, said caution does not entail not celebrating festivals. (in another meaning)

Diwali shopping reaches its peak as the days of the festival of lights approach. With people across the country out for their last-minute deals, there is concern that Covid-19 may rear its head again.

Images of shoppers crowding Delhi’s Sarojini market on Saturday, with social distancing protocols aside, sparked panic among health experts, who have repeatedly urged caution.

The crowd is following the Delhi Disaster Management Authority to ease Covid-19 standards for the festival season. In its latest order, the authority allowed all licensed weekly markets to reopen in the city from Monday.

As crowds throng Sarojini Market, a shopkeeper said the market is seeing a huge turnout this season. He said most shoppers have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

A similar crowd was also seen at Karol Bagh market as well.

In Mumbai, the markets at Crawford Market, Dadar and Wollabog were packed with shoppers who came out before Diwali. Traffic and train congestion were also higher.

Markets such as Manish Market, Crawford Market, Dadar, Lohar Chol, Boleshwar and Lalbog saw huge crowds, forcing the authorities to deploy more police as a precaution.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is also preparing for a spike in Covid-19 cases after festival season. A civil official said there may be a slight rise in the number of additional daily cases after Diwali, but it is unlikely to see a sudden increase.

Doctors and health experts had earlier warned that the festival season could be dangerous and lead to an increase in the number of cases if people are not careful. They said failure to follow protocols could turn social gatherings into super-spreading events.

The Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr Palram Bhargava, reportedly said before the festival that vaccination was an option that modifies the disease, not prevents it.

AIIMS Director, Raipur, Nitin Nagarkar, said people need to remember that cases had dwindled earlier this year also before the April shootings.

Nagarkar reportedly said India was reporting around 8000 cases per day during February, but the number of cases rose alarmingly as individuals and communities became satisfied.

AIIMS Director, Bhopal, Sarman Singh, said caution does not entail not celebrating festivals. He added that technology has enabled nearly everyone to stay connected socially and emotionally.

In the age of digital connectivity and big e-commerce platforms offering massive discounts throughout the festival season, people have endless options for shopping on Diwali. A new ad from Cadbury has seen Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan promote local shops and stores, urging people to head to the local.

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