Fireworks will be banned in New Delhi for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in view of the high pollution and rising coronavirus cases in the city, officials said on Thursday.
The Indian capital is among the most polluted cities in the world. Every year, millions across Delhi and the country celebrate Diwali by setting off firecrackers, leaving cities immersed in smoke. Diwali falls on November 14 this year.
Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, who took stock of the Covid-19 pandemic in the metropolis, said it was found there was a spike in Covid-19 cases after the recently concluded festivals of Dussehra and Durga Puja as well as due to air pollution.
Owing to this, the Delhi government had taken several steps to curb the rising number of cases, Kejriwal said on Twitter. Besides banning firecrackers, medical infrastructure will be ramped up, oxygen and intensive care unit beds will also be increased in government hospitals, he said.
New Delhi is currently battling its third wave of infections, reporting over 6,800 Covid-19 daily infections on Thursday, its highest-single day spike since the onset of the epidemic.
The increase in Covid-19 cases has been linked to pollution levels. The city and its surrounding areas have seen high levels of air pollution, ranging between the “very poor” to “severe” in recent days.
Physicians say high levels of air pollution can impact those recovering from respiratory issues linked to Covid-19.
Experts are also concerned that cooler and drier air in November, which is said to facilitate infections, in combination with Diwali – which usually includes the mass movement of people – could lead to a surge in the caseload.