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COVID-19 test mandatory for Kumbh Mela participants: Uttarkhand HC

in view of the pandemic, the duration of Kumbh Mela is being shortened this year.

Nearly 10-20 pilgrims and the same number of locals are being tested positive every dayat the Kumbh Mela, revealed a team of the Health Ministry. They warned that this number has the potential to rapidly turn into an 'upsurge' in cases.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : March 24, 2021 5:50 PM IST

After taking over as Uttarakhand's new CM, Tirath Singh Rawat had said that no RT-PCR COVID-19 test report would be required for pilgrims to participate in the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela. Mandatory COVID-19 test, according to him, would create apprehensions among devotees who are planning to visit Haridwar for the Kumbh Mela, which happens only after 12 years. The requirement of COVID test report would make many to miss out on the opportunity to experience it, he had said at that time. Now, the Uttarakhand High Court has stepped in and ordered COVID-19 test mandatory for the Kumbh Mela participants.

A team of the Health Ministry who recently visited Uttarakhand to review the medical and public health preparedness measures undertaken by the State for the Kumbh Mela had reported that nearly 10-20 pilgrims and 10-20 locals at the Kumbh Mela are being reported positive every day. The team, led by Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) in Delhi, had warned that this number has the potential to rapidly turn into an 'upsurge' in cases. They also suggested the Uttarakhand government to increase the daily COVID-19 testing numbers in Haridwar. Currently, around 50,000 rapid antigen tests and 5,000 RT PCR test are being done in Haridwar, which the team said was inadequate given the expected number of pilgrims, when the festival officially commences on April 1.

Negative COVID test report mandated by Ex-CM

Former Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat had mandated a negative report of RT-PCR test (not more than 72 hours old), as part of the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for pilgrims. As per the SOPs, registration at government portals was also made mandatory, e-pass allocation for pilgrims, stern legal action against violators under the Disaster Management Act and Covid-19 regulations.

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The Centre also asked the authorities concerned to discourage children below the age of 10, people above 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases from participating in the 'Mela'. The devotees have been to maintain a social distance of at least six feet to combat COVID-19.

This year, the duration of Kumbh Mela is being shortened to prevent spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The festival will continue till April 27.

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