While admitting that mass gatherings were a risk in wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Friday said the Goa government will not ban public assembly ahead of the popular Shigmo festival, which is popular among Hindus in Goa.
The Minister, however, said people are “very smart” and would take adequate precautions to keep themselves safe from the viral disease.
“I do understand that Shigmo and other things are there, but in today’s situation, one has to look at one’s own health and see what’s best for one’s own family and then take a call,” Rane told a press conference in Panaji.
“The people are very smart. I don’t think we need a specific order. Our people are very smart. They read the newspaper everyday and they wash their hands. And they are also anxious about their own health. and I’m sure they will take precautions whatever it is. It is a phase we are going through. The next few months are very crucial for us,” he also said.
Reckoned as the indigenous variant of the Portuguese-oriented Carnival, the festival of Shigmo, which is marked by the boisterous celebration of colour and music and decorated float parades, kicks off in Goa on March 21.
Historians argue that the Shigmo festival, which is a Goan adaptation of the Holi festival, is the precursor of the Carnival, which the Portuguese later westernized, to bring it par with the European spring festival.
“Mass gatherings should be avoided and don’t take a risk in today’s time. At least, for the next two-three months we should avoid these gatherings and any programmes which involve mass contact of people should be avoided,” the Health Minister said.
Rane also said, that while in some countries, governments were in the process of closing down colleges and schools, Goa had not reached such a stage yet.
Currently, only two persons, a British and a Nepali national, are lodged at the isolation ward of the Goa Medical College near Panaji. Two other suspects who had been admitted to the ward earlier this week, were discharged after their tests proved negative on Thursday.
Rane also said that around 20 coronavirus suspects continue to be observation.