In view of the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, the Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday suspended the ceremonial Ganga Arti at the ghats in Varanasi. The total number of cases in Uttar Pradesh has risen to 16.
Every evening, the Ganga Aarti is performed at the three holy cities of Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Varanasi in India. An aarti is a devotional ritual that uses fire as an offering. It's usually made in the form of a lit lamp, and in the case of the Ganges River, a small diya with a candle and flowers that are floated down the river. The offering is made to the Goddess Ganga, also affectionately referred to as Maa Ganga, goddess of the holiest river in India.
Earlier on Wednesday, the famous Mata Vaishno Devi Yatra has been closed. Operations of all inter-state buses both incoming and outcoming from Jammu and Kashmir has been banned Wednesday onwards. This was confirmed by the Department of Information and Public Relations. The yatra is usually open throughout the year, but now joins a growing list of religious places and yatras that are being temporarily closed on account of the Coronavirus outbreak.
As of date, the total number of positive cases in India has reached 148, as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Along with it, three deaths have been reported in Kalaburagi, West Delhi and Mumbai respectively. India has suspended all visas, barring for a few categories such as diplomatic and employment apart from keeping in abeyance the visa-free travel facility to OCI cardholders till April 15.
Moreover, the Centre has “strongly advised” Indians to avoid all non-essential travel abroad. The government is also monitoring all suspected cases and has issued preventive advisories. Earlier on Saturday, the Central Government decided to treat the deadly virus as a "notified disaster". Various state governments have issued their own advisories, ranging from work-from-home recommendations to closures of schools and colleges.