60 out of 61 Kumbh returnees test positive in MP, 22 pilgrims untraced

The 60 people who were found to have COVID-19 were told to stay in home isolation and immediately report complications if they faced any.
Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela
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In Madhya Pradesh, a scary situation was reported to have unfolded as out of the 83 returnees of the Kumbh Mela, 22 were untraceable, and at least 60 out of 61 tested were found to be positive for the novel coronavirus. Eighty-three pilgrims had left for Haridwar, where the congregation was held between April 11 and 15 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Per health officials, the 83 returned to Gyaraspur in Vidisha district on April 25. However, officials have not been able to trace 22 of them.

The 60 people who were found to have COVID-19 were told to stay in home isolation and immediately report complications if they faced any. So far, five of the returnees have reported complications and were moved to COVID Care Centres.  

Seventy lakh devotees participated in Haridwar's Kumbh Mela this year. The mammoth religious congregation which ended on April 30 was criticised by many, as visuals showed disregard for measures against COVID-19 like wearing masks and social distancing. However, this year, the event was seen as comparatively ‘modest’ as it was reduced to one month and scaled down midway due to the raging pandemic.

Held over three months in normal circumstances, the Kumbh Mela this time formally began as late as April 1 due to concerns over COVID-19.

About 2,600 devotees tested positive out of the nearly two lakh tests conducted by medical personnel during the Mela. Three shahi snans took place during the event on April 12, 14 and 27, the last one being reduced to a largely ‘symbolic’ event.

Haridwar's Chief Medical Officer S K Jha told PTI that the Kumbh was a big challenge, considering its potential to fuel the surge of coronavirus. Medical officer for Kumbh Arjun Singh Sengar said, "The situation was challenging for us as the crowd, though relatively smaller this time, was big enough to violate the norms of social distancing. The seers were initially reluctant to go for tests but they relented after the second shahi snan on April 14.”

“With the help of healthcare personnel brought from Uttar Pradesh, we conducted a total of 1,900,83 tests, out of which 2642 reported positive," he added.

The Kumbh Mela is held once every twelve years in Haridwar.

States have announced strict home isolation and quarantine measures for returnees from the Kumbh. Delhi for instance, has announced that all those who returned from the Mela would have to go through 14 days of home quarantine, and violators would face legal action. Delhi, like many other states in India, is grappling with a deadly second wave of COVID-19 infections, and had announced that Kumbh returnees would be mandatorily tested, traced and quarantined, apart from having to upload details such as their address, contact number, ID proof, dates of departure and arrival on a government portal.

(With PTI inputs)

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