Superspreader Kumbh?

Haridwar: Kumbh Mela in Haridwar could well end up as a super-spreader as a total of 2,167 people were found positive for coronavirus in the last five days. Such a large mass gathering, in fact, can be a Covid hotspot in itself as it may carry many silent carriers.

According to the Uttarakhand State Control Room, there were 254 Covid-19 positive cases on April 10, 386 on April 11, 408 on April 12, 594 on April 13 and 525 on April 14.

Officials have meanwhile said that despite a record surge in Covid-19 cases in the country, the Kumbh Mela will continue till April 30.

"Kumbh Mela used to begin in January but looking at the Covid-19 situation, the state government decided to start this in April. The Centre's SOP said that in the wake of the situation the period (of Mela) be reduced. I have no information if it's being curtailed," Haridwar District Magistrate and Kumbh Mela officer Deepak Rawat said on Wednesday.

Serious questions are being raised over the decision to continue with the Kumbh Mela, as India reported over two lakh new cases on Thursday, the highest-ever spike since the beginning of the pandemic.

Around 14 lakh devotees took a holy dip in the River Ganga at the Haridwar Mahakumbh on Wednesday on the occasion of Baisakhi Shahi Snan, the third royal bath in this Kumbh.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat had said on Tuesday that there is no comparison between the event held at Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi last year and Kumbh in Haridwar as the former was held in a closed space while the latter is being held in a vast open area.

"There is no comparison between Markaz and Kumbh. Markaz was in a closed hall. All the people slept in a single hall with close contacts. They shared blankets. On the contrary, there are 16 ghats in Kumbh. Not just Haridwar, Kumbh is spread from Rishikesh to Nilkanth. Devotees take bath in different ghats at different times," he had said.

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