Avoid firecrackers as pollution can affect COVID-19 patients: Maha govt

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Mumbai, Nov 5 (PTI) People should avoid bursting firecrackers during this Diwali as air pollution could pose a problem for coronavirus patients, the Maharashtra government said on Thursday.

The state home department came out with guidelines ahead of the festival of lights, which will be celebrated under the shadow of the pandemic.

A government release appealed for subdued celebration of Diwali, like that of other festivals since the virus outbreak.

Social distancing norms should be followed, the guidelines reminded.

Diwali will be celebrated between November 13 (Dhanteras) and November 16 (Bhai Dooj).

'Firecrackers are burst on a big scale every year during the festival. This causes a rise in air and sound pollution levels and its effects on the health of people and animals are visible for a considerable period after Dipawali,' the release said.

'Those affected by COVID-19 are likely to be troubled directly due to the air pollution caused by bursting of firecrackers. Considering this, people should avoid bursting firecrackers this year. Instead, they can light lamps on a big scale and celebrate the festival,' the release said.

Senior citizens and children in particular should avoid stepping out of home during the festival period, it said.

Events should be organised through online platforms instead of holding physical gatherings, the government said.

Instead of cultural programs, priority should be given to health initiatives and awareness campaigns, it said.