With Holi festivities and traditional fairs start specially in central Gujarat, the risk of Swine Flu spread has made district administrations issue advisories for celebrations. To ensure that the crowd gathering during the festivals do not set base for more positive cases, collectors have warned people to “stay alert” and safe this Holi.
District Collectors of Vadodara, Anand and Chhota Udepur – where Holi celebrations consist of tribal get-together – have issued advisories to prevent spread of the H1N1 virus in wake of increasing cases of Swine Flu.
According to health department officials, the weather change is conducive for the spread of the virus and the public gatherings during Holi this week could only result in escalation of cases, if caution is not maintained.
Accordingly, organisers of tribal melas in Chhota Udepur have been briefed about preventive steps by officials of the taluka level. The Kawant region of the district witnesses a very popular traditional fair called the Gher mela on the day of Dhuleti, which falls on March 6.
Apart from Kawant, several villages also host Holi fairs involving traditional tribal folk dances and events. Jenu Devan, Collector, Chhota Udepur said, “We have been holding meetings with the organisers at the taluka level to ensure that they understand the gravity of the situation. We have no other option but to warn them as they will not comply with orders to cancel the traditional fair. The event has religious importance and we realize that it is impossible to convince them to put it off. We could also not expect them to wear masks to their traditional fair, so we have asked organizers to ensure that someone showing symptoms of Swine Flu or suffering from any disease should be discouraged from attending the mela.”
The district administration has also asked tribals to use hand wash and sanitisers during the fair. The administration will also set up health counters in prominent areas to keep watch on the villagers.
In Vadodara, District Collector Avantika Singh Aulakh has imposed Section 144 of CrPC that restricts movement of people in groups – primarily to discourage crowd gathering in places.
District Health Officer Dr M Chari said that advisory has been issued in Vadodara to make people aware about the precautions to be taken during Holi. However, in what it sees as an “effective” step to curb the spread of the disease, the department will deploy teams of health officers at the railway and central bus station in Vadodara to check “every tribal” coming into the city for Holi.
Chari said, “Our health teams will be stationed at the bus station as well as the railway station to check tribals entering the city from Surendranagar and other parts of the state. We know that many people who work as labourers outside return home for Holi as do other people planning to spend the festival here. We have instructed officers to report any suspected cases showing symptoms to the nearest family health centre so that the virus can be contained before it spreads.”
The general advisory issued by government doctors treating Swine Flu cases at Vadodara’s SSG hospital includes a warning to stay away from colours that consist of harmful chemical components, known to give rise to respiratory infections. The warning states, “Use the colours only to do a tilak, and avoid making contact of the colours with eyes. Do not shake hands or embrace crowds, make do with a ‘namaste’ to greet people.”
In Anand district, too, the health officials are keeping a close watch on the fair at Ranchhod Mandir in Dakor, on account of Holi-Dhuleti where lakhs of devotees are expected to turn up from Ahmedabad, Kheda, Anand, the Panchmahals and Vadodara.