One of the world’s largest religious gatherings, the ‘Kumbh Mela’ has hugely contributed to spiking up the COVID-19 cases in Uttarakhand. In the five-day period from 10th April to 14th April, more than 1,700 people got tested positive for COVID-19 in the Kumbh Mela area, Haridwar.
During this five-day period, a total of 2,63,751 tests were conducted by the medical workers at the mela site, out of which 1,701 devotees tested positive for Coronavirus. This number is expected to increase in the coming few days.
Shambhu Kumar Jha, Chief Medical Officer, Haridwar said, “The statistics include both Rapid Antigen Tests and RT-PCR test reports of visitors and devotees of several akharas (ascetic groups) in the entire mela site, right from Haridwar to Devprayag, over the five-day period.
In the meanwhile, more RT-PCR Test reports are yet to arrive and according to the trend, the number of infections in Kumbh Mela is likely to reach up to 2,000 or more.
The Kumbh Mela area covers districts like Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun, and Tehri and is spread across 670 hectares of the Uttarakhand state.
Two ‘royal baths’ (shahi snaan) were held during the occasions of Somwati Amavasya (12th April) and Mesh Sankranti (14th April), in which a majority of 48.51 lakh devotees took part. Most of these people were seen openly violating COVID norms such as wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing.
Due to the huge crowd, it had become next to impossible for the police to maintain physical distancing & to impose Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), especially on the ash-smeared ascetics and the seers of akharas thronging Har Ki Pairi ghat during the two major shahi snaans.
There are 13 major akharas in total and each one of them has a time slot allotted to take a holy dip at the Har Ki Pairi ghat before sunset. The paramilitary personnel and the state police had a tough time managing the huge crowd and vacating the ghat each time a new akhara arrives, in order to prevent chaos.
Many of these devotees/visitors were not ready to go under the RT-PCR test, yet the number of tests and inoculations is likely to be increased in the coming days.
Source: The Indian Express
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