KOLKATA: The West Bengal government on Saturday asked people to avoid crowded places saying the Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet, as the citizens of the state have started visiting Durga Puja pandals in large numbers even before the actual festival commences raising concern about spreading of the disease.
The state health department urged people to take precautionary measures against the contagion and celebrate the festival from home.
"The Covid-19 pandemic is very much active and we must not forget about the precautions we have been taking to combat it all these months. During this Durga Puja festival, we must avoid crowded places. It will be wise to stay indoors and celebrate the festival virtually," the department said in an advisory.
A large number of people were seen visiting big-ticket pandals in and around Kolkata in the past couple of days, though the actual puja will start on Monday.
The virus responsible for the disease has been mutating and the third wave of the pandemic could come any moment, the health department said.
Making wearing of masks and use of sanitiser mandatory every time people go out of home, the department advised them not to participate in 'sindoor khela' (a ritual in which women smear each other with sindoor on the last day of the puja) and keep adequate physical distance while visiting pandals or eateries during the festivities.
"It's advisable for the elderly people, children and pregnant women to stay indoors and celebrate the puja online. If anyone has cold and fever, the person should go on isolation," the advisory said.
The department has also advised puja organisers to engage people, preferably those who have been administered both doses of Covid-19, as volunteers.
Meanwhile, at least 12 more people succumbed to coronavirus in West Bengal taking the toll to 18,894 on Saturday, a bulletin released by the health department said.
North 24 Parganas district accounted for four deaths while three fatalities were reported in Kolkata.
The tally went up to 15,75,577 as 776 new cases were registered, the bulletin said.
It said 755 patients recovered from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours taking the total number of cured people to 15,49,049.
The discharge rate remained at 98.32 per cent.
The number of active cases now is 7,634.
Since Friday, 36,429 samples were tested in the state for coronavirus, as the total number of such examinations reached 1,84,71,961, the bulletin added.