No Plans To End Kumbh Mela Despite Covid Surge

Despite the spike in COVID-19 cases, the Union Health Ministry does not plan to end the holy congregation, Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, prematurely and is hoping that standard operating procedures (SOPs) are being followed there.

On being asked if Kumbh Mela can be a super-spreader of COVID-19, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “As the super spreader events are concerned, the union government almost a month ago issued an SOP, specifically for practices to be adopted in Kumbh and had a long meeting with the state government’s officers.”

“One fact that we usually lose sight of is that the duration of Kumbh has already been curtailed, Kumbh wherever it happens is usually for three and a half to four months, the present Kumbh has been curtailed to a month,” he added.

Dr VK Paul, the Member (Health) of the NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog said, “We hope that the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued for Kumbh Mela is being followed.”

A senior official in the Central government, during a Secretary-level meeting over the COVID-19 situation in the country on Monday, expressed apprehension that the ongoing Kumbh might become a “super spreader”, according to a top source in the government.

The source said the government is worried about the Kumbh and discussed this at a high-level meeting on Monday.

“If the government does not decide to end Kumbh before the stipulated time, it may become a COVID-19 ‘super spreader’,” a member in the high-level meeting said.

“The government is forming a team that will appeal to all with the help of sadhus and religious leaders to ensure pilgrims, who are visiting the Kumbh, wear masks and follow social distancing,” the source told ANI.

Kumbh is held periodically at four different locations in India — Nashik, Haridwar, Prayagraj, and Ujjain — every four years.

In normal circumstances, Kumbh continues for nearly four months but this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the duration of the congregation has been curtailed to one month. (ANI)

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