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Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Asks Should Lives Be Risked While Celebrating Festivals

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan urged people to unite in the fight against Covid

New Delhi: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan today cautioned people against neglecting Covid management protocols while celebrating the forthcoming festival season, stressing that “no religion or God says you have to celebrate in an ostentatious way”. Dr Vardhan urged people to stay home and celebrate with family instead of going to fairs or large public gatherings.

Stating that the Bhagavad Gita “condones war for the warrior class”, Dr Vardhan said: “So, there is no need to congregate in large numbers to prove your faith or your religion. If we do this, we may be heading for big trouble. Lord Krishna says concentrate on your goal… our goal is to finish this virus and save humanity. This is our religion. The religion of the whole world.”

“Extraordinary circumstances must draw extraordinary responses. No religion or God says that you have to celebrate in an ostentatious way… that you have to visit pandals and temples and mosques to pray,” he added.

During the fifth edition of “Sunday Samvaad“, his weekly social media interaction with the public, Dr Vardhan also reminded people that the coronavirus was a respiratory virus and that the coming winter season may see increased rates of infection and transmission.

“These viruses are known to thrive better in cold weather and low humidity conditions. In view of this it would not be wrong to assume winter may see increased rates of transmission of the novel coronavirus in the Indian context too,” he explained, offering the United Kingdom as an example of increased infections during winter.

Dr Vardhan’s remarks come as India gears up for weeks of festivity in different parts of the country, with popular festivals like Diwali and Dussehra on the horizon.

“Shouldn’t karma take precedence over dharma? Should lives be risked while celebrating festivals?” he asked today as he reminded people about government-mandated social distancing norms to check the spread of infection.

The minister also discussed distribution of a viable coronavirus vaccine – once this is available – saying that “occupational hazard and risk of exposure, and risk of mortality would determine priority”. He denied rumours the government was set to prioritise the young and working-class to help the economy recover.

Dr Vardhan also said that one manufacturer would not be able to produce enough to vaccinate the whole country and that the government was open to “several COVID-19 vaccines”.

Three potential vaccines are being tested in India, including Covishield which was developed jointly by the University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca, and will, if cleared, be mass produced by Mr Poonawalla’s Serum Institute – the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines by volume.

Dr Vardhan also pitched for Ministry of Ayush remedies to COVID-19, saying they had “proven immuno-modulatory, anti-viral, anti-pyretic and anti-inflammatory properties”.

His comments on this subject come as the Indian Medical Association (IMA) wrote to him seeking scientific proof of the efficacy of medicines prescribed by the Ayush Ministry.

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