Haridwar bans Ganga Snan on ‘Makar Sankranti’ in view of Omicron spread

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Haridwar district administration imposed a complete ban on devotees taking a holy dip in River Ganga on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. The decision has been taken in view of the third wave of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant. Entry at ‘Har ki Pauri’ area has also been restricted and a night curfew will be imposed in the district from 10pm to 6am on January 14, according to an order issued by Vinay Shankar Pandey, DM, Haridwar.

Citing the continued rise in Covid cases and the threat from the Omicron variant, the order stated that the new variant of concern has the capability to spread quickly.

“In view of the effective guidelines issued for effective control of Covid-19 infection and the strict prohibition of mass gathering for religious purposes, ‘Makar Sankranti/Snan dated January 14’ organised this year is banned by the district administration,” the order in Hindi stated.

India, meanwhile, reported 168,063 new Covid cases and 277 related deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Union ministry of health and family welfare. Over 400 Omicron infections were also reported in that period, taking the overall Omicron tally to 4,461. Maharashtra continues to lead Omicron tally with 1,247 cases, followed by Rajasthan (645 cases), Delhi (546 cases), Karnataka (479 cases) and Kerala (350 cases).

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest technical briefing that the overall risk related to Omicron remains very high for a number of reasons. Citing current data, the WHO said Omicron has a significant growth advantage over Delta, leading to rapid spread in the community.

“The rapid increase in cases will lead to an increase in hospitalizations, may pose overwhelming demands on health care systems and lead to significant morbidity, particularly in vulnerable populations,” it added.

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