Festive season and COVID-19

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Festive season and COVID-19

Festive season and COVID-19

Festive season and COVID-19

We are very close to the festive season in India that will start with Durga Puja and will continue with Diwali. Is it possible to celebrate the festive season, can we have family gatherings?

Let’s look into details.

We all had family coming together and celebrating Durga Puja and Diwali with feasts and puja. These have been long traditions across the country.

But the pandemic has changed decades of tradition. Many families may not be celebrating festivals as per the old traditions. Many will probably do a Zoom call with all of the family and relatives.

It’s been tough for families; the family Holidays has become virtual.

It may be upsetting for many but our scripture teaches we should live by traditions, not die by them.

There are possible ways to get together, but the most important thing is not to endanger health.

No Easy Answers in 2020

Holiday Travel

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, says many things play into that decision, including where you are and who you will be with.

“It really depends on the level of infection in the community where you are,” he said in an interview.

In those settings, Fauci says, “if you do things with a good to a modest degree of care, you may be able to congregate indoors for a religious holiday. However, there are certain areas where the level of infection is concerning. And under those circumstances, you may need to take extra precautions.

Know the Situation

You need to consider who will be there and what their risks may be.

If you have someone who's a combination of elderly and immunosuppressed with significant underlying conditions, you should be very careful about having that person in a gathering where there are a lot of people, even with masks.

You need to be extra careful in orange and red zones.

Avoid large crowds if possible, and wear a mask, indoors and out, if you can’t main physical distance from others. If you have to be inside and you have people who might be congregating close to each other where you can’t maintain that physical distance, then it becomes even more important to wear a mask. So, you may be able to have family functions, religious functions, but people should at a minimum wear a mask and where possible limit the number of people in any given gathering.

Travel Carries Risks

So if I, for instance, couldn’t ensure that I wasn’t harming my family, and if I knew I couldn’t take the strictest precautions, then I wouldn’t go. That is unfortunately the consequence that we all have to live with in the setting of a global pandemic.

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Flying During COVID

  • Make sure you have no COVID-like symptoms for at least 2 weeks prior to travel.
  • Get tested before you travel and, if possible quarantine at a hotel for at least 48 hours before seeing your loved ones.
  • Drive if possible.
  • If you fly, travel during off-peak hours, wear a well-fitting mask (N95 if possible), social distance, and make sure the airline is keeping the middle seat open. Take wet wipes to wipe down the back of your seat and tray table, and make sure you have hand sanitizer.
  • At the family gathering, cut down on close contact and talking without a mask -- particularly around elderly loved ones.
  • Other tip  include frequent hand-washing, washing your own dishes so that you lessen the chance of cross-contamination or exposure to saliva, doing your own laundry while there, and wiping down common areas like bathrooms.

The way you would operate in public, operate in private when you’re visiting family members that you don’t normally see, day in and day out, who might be vulnerable.

You want to minimize cross-contamination, anybody eating directly from shared pots, sharing glasses of liquid, because we know COIVD-19 can be spread through saliva secretions.

“If people are going to get together, what you don’t want to do is create a superspreader event amongst your own family and friends. And so indoor gatherings of individuals that you don’t shelter in place with, that you do not sort of huddling with already, you should limit those to just five or less.”

Because, you don’t want a short-sighted, short-term decision to impact or cut short the life of someone you deeply love and who you want to spend many more holidays with.

Dr. Rakesh Rai. MS, FRCS, MD, CCT, ASTS fellow.