Ban firecrackers or prepare for Covid disaster, warn docs | Ranchi News

Ranchi: Smoke from firecrackers burnt during Diwali could turn out to be fatal for Covid-19 patients, said the Jharkhand chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Thursday. In view of the pandemic, the medical body has urged the state government and citizens to make Diwali a smoke-free affair. The appeal from the IMA came in the wake of Durga Puja celebrations, when the festive crowd in the state disregarded Covid norms and swarmed community pandals in large numbers. Health experts here warned that the dip in temperature by mid-November — when Diwali would be celebrated this year — coupled with the expected increase in air pollution owing to burning of crackers could deal a body blow to the efforts to rein in Covid-19.
Talking to TOI, IMA state president Dr A K Singh said, “While the Covid graph of Jharkhand is on a downward slide, the effect of Durga Puja revelry will be felt in the next few days. But we fear that the upcoming Diwali festival could worsen the situation.” He added that with many Covid patients staying in home isolation, it was even more imperative to ensure that the air was clean.
Agreeing with Singh, Dr Pradeep Bhattacharjee, the head of critical care and trauma at the state-run Rims, said that the late Diwali this year could make the battle against Covid difficult.
“Diwali is on 14th November this year. By that time winter would set in and the dry air could aggravate breathing difficulties, especially among those suffering from lung ailments. If we add smoke to the ambient air by bursting crackers, then it could turn out to be a recipe for disaster. Pollutants released from the crackers will remain suspended in cool air for a longer duration,” Bhattacharjee said.
“Since Covid affects the lungs, even those who have recovered from the virus will become vulnerable if we don’t restrain ourselves during Diwali. The elderly and kids will also suffer owing to the air pollution. We will, therefore, advice all to stay indoors and shun crackers during Diwali.”
Another Rims doctor said on the condition of anonymity, “We appeal to the state government to ban the sale of crackers without any delay. The longer it takes for the state government to issue SOPs for Diwali, the greater the threat would be for public health. The administration should act before people start stocking up firecrackers.” Notably, several states have already issued guidelines regulating the sale of firecrackers in their respective jurisdictions.
Both Singh and Bhattacharjee supported a ban on crackers. “The government must choose health over revenue this time. It can later compensate traders who will lose revenue because of the ban,” Bhattacharjee added.
State health secretary Nitin Madan Kulkarni said the administration was working on a Covid control plan for Diwali. “We are currently observing the post-Durga Puja trend. We will notify the dos and don’ts for Diwali based on our Puja experience,” he said.
Till Thursday afternoon, Jharkhand had clocked 1,00,569 Covid cases, of which 5,363 were active.

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