COVID “superspreader”? India warns of mass farmer protests

COVID “superspreader”? India warns of mass farmer protests

Indian government leaders have called on farmers to call off a mass protest this week for fear it will become a “super-widespread” viral event as the country’s overall COVID-19 toll passed 300,000 dead on Monday.
More than a third of the deaths have died in the past three weeks in a devastating second wave fueled by a new variant of the virus detected in India, mass political and religious rallies and a decline in public guard, according to health officials and experts.

Farmers today raised new alarm by saying they will organize mass protests across the country on Wednesday to mark six months of their campaign against deregulation of agricultural markets.

Farmers camp on the outskirts of Delhi despite a great risk of infection for themselves, the Joint Committee of Farmers’ Organizations said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to repeal laws to liberalize the sector agricultural.

“We have no desire to expose protesting farmers or anyone else to preventable health risks,” the letter said.

But challenging laws that would make farmers’ livelihoods vulnerable to agribusinesses is itself a matter of life and death, he said.

Twelve opposition parties, including Congress, released a statement saying they stand alongside the farmers, who constitute an influential electoral bloc in the vast Indian countryside.

The fear is that a mass rally on the outskirts of the capital Delhi could turn into a ‘mass media’ incident like the Kumbh Mela (Pitcher Festival) on the banks of the Ganges last month when thousands took a holy plunge. , or the crowded political rallies that have taken place in states holding local elections.

“Please don’t act irresponsibly, this type of protest is totally unacceptable when people’s lives are at stake,” said Amarinder Singh, chief minister of the state of Punjab, where the protests farmers were born, in a statement.

The daily number of new coronavirus infections in India increased by 222,315, according to government data on Monday – still the largest 24-hour increase in the world today, although it fell by more than 400,000 earlier this month.

The giant South Asian country has recorded a total of 26.75 million COVID-19 infections, just behind the United States. Deaths increased by 4,454 to a total of 303,720.

Health experts say the actual number of deaths could be several times higher, as many go unreported as deaths from COVID-19. Dozens of bodies washed up in the Ganges or were found in shallow graves by the river.


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