Opening tourist destinations, allowing pilgrimage travel could act as ‘super spreaders’ of COVID-19 third wave, warns IMA

New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Monday (July 12, 2021) warned that opening tourist destinations and allowing pilgrimage travel could act as the ‘super spreaders’ of the third wave of COVID-19.

The medical body also expressed concern over governments and people being complacent and engaging in mass gatherings without following COVID-19 norms. 

It stressed that tourist bonanza, pilgrimage travel, religious fervour are needed, but can wait for a few more months.

The IMA in a statement highlighted that global evidence and the history of any pandemic suggest that ‘the third wave is inevitable and imminent’.

“It is painful to note that in this crucial time, when everyone needs to work for the mitigation of the third wave, in many parts of the country, both governments and the public are complacent and engaged in mass gatherings without following Covid protocols. Tourist bonanza, pilgrimage travel, religious fervour, all are needed, but can wait for a few more months,” it said.

“Opening up these rituals and enabling people without vaccination to go scot-free in these mass gatherings are potential super spreaders for the COVID-19 third wave,” the IMA added.

It appealed to all the states to control mass gatherings and said that based on the experience of the last one-and-a-half years of the war with the virus and the emerging evidence, it is obvious that by making the universal vaccination drive reach the maximum number of people and strictly following COVID-appropriate behaviour, people can face the third wave with confidence and mitigate its impact.

“The consequences of treating a patient with COVID-19 in a hospital and its impacts on the economy will be much better than the economic loss we suffer by avoiding such mass gatherings. It is the duty and responsibility of everyone at this moment to strictly enforce Covid-appropriate behaviour for a minimum of three more months and ensure that everyone near our houses is getting vaccinated,” the IMA added further.

The statement comes amid the beginning of the annual ‘Rath Yatra’ and talks of allowing the ‘Kanwar Yatra’ in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It also comes in the backdrop of hill stations witnessing a massive inflow of tourists.

India, notably, currently has 4,50,899 active coronavirus cases. 

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