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Bihu festivities triggers massive Covid surge in Assam

Assam witnessed a 158 per cent increase in Covid positive cases in the past 24 hours as the northeastern state celebrated harvest festival 'Bhogali Bihu', also called 'Magh Bihu'.

An analysis by IANS of Assam's National Health Mission (NHM) reports said that the daily positivity rate of 7.87 per cent on Thursday, a day before the Bihu festivity, rose to 10.75 per cent on Monday night while it was only 0.77 per cent on January 1.

According to the NHM reports, the active Covid cases stood at 918 on January 1 and rose to 13,785 on Thursday last week, and further to 23,948 on Monday night.

As many as 6,982 fresh Covid cases were reported on Monday night against 2,709 on Sunday - the biggest single-day spike since the pandemic began in 2020, raising the tally of positive cases to 6,53,717 with 6,217 deaths.

Assam has been witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the new year with nearly 25,000 fresh cases in the past fortnight.

Of its 34 districts, Kamrup (Metro) district, where the state capital Dispur and northeastern region's main commercial hub Guwahati falls, registered highest Covid positive cases of 1,491 on Monday followed by Dibrugarh (489), Tinsukia (407) and Cachar district (372).

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, while urging the people to maintain utmost alertness to prevent the spread of the infectious virus, told the media that the state government is not considering imposing a lockdown in the state at the moment. The Assam government earlier this month while imposing various restrictions including closure of elementary standard classes of schools and rotational classes for non-elementary classes, advanced the night curfew to 10 p.m. from 11.30 p.m., and it would continue till 6 a.m.

As part of the colourful Bihu festival, lakhs of men, women and children took part in the 'Uruka', the night of feast and merriment which is celebrated a day before the Bhogali Bihu, while people assembling around 'Mejis' (makeshift houses made of straw and bamboo) and lighting them, seeking the blessings of the elders.

People of all ages, mostly women and children, throw 'pithas' (rice cakes) and areca nuts after setting fire to the 'Mejis' and then offer prayers as part of the festivity.

The traditional community feasts in the open grounds and even in paddy fields is the main event of the 'Bhogali Bihu'.

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