On March 24 this year Indian PM Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days till April 14 to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic. However, with religious festivals fast approaching and India witnessing a rapid surge in covid-19 cases amidst lockdown measures, there is a fear that India may be heading for stage-3 of the outbreak or the community spread.
The first stage of the virus is limited to the occurrence of the virus in only those who have come from a foreign country. In the second stage, the family members and close contacts of the infected patients are also infected by the virus. The third and most catastrophic stage of the virus is stage 3 or community transmission stage.
It refers to when a patient not exposed to any infected person or one who has not travelled to any of the affected countries tests positive. At this stage, people detected positive are unable to identify the exact source of the virus. This stage is called the community transmission where the virus is spreading in the community.
On Tuesday, Malaysia’s Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said that Ramadan markets will not be cancelled but will be adjusted as they were needed by people, especially by those living in urban centres.
However, the statement drew sharp reactions from Malaysian netizens which have now put the organisation of markets in a limbo. Malaysia is reeling from the Covid-19 outbreak and organization of the markets has led to increasingly worried citizens about the possibility of the second-wave. The Ramadan festival is set to begin from April 24.
India is home to around 200 million Muslims making it one of the world’s largest Muslim nations. The April 14 deadline for the removal of the lockdown seems impractical considering that India has been amongst one of the countries with lowest testing rates in the world against coronavirus, with just 6.8 tests per million.
And the recent religious congregation organized by Tablighi Jamaat at its 100-year-old headquarters in Nizamuddin West in South Delhi has witnessed over 300 hospitalizations and 10 deaths.
Given the limited number of tests India has conducted and recent splurge in covid-19 cases on account of the religious congregation in New Delhi and with Ramadan and Easter approaching, the fear that India is fast heading towards stage 3 is not completely unfounded.
As with the festival of Holi, that was not celebrated to prevent Covid-19 from further spreading, it may be wise for the Indian Government to rethink on holding Ramadan festivities as it would possibly prevent India from heading into stage three of the pandemic.