COVID-19: Centre warns of ‘potential upsurge’ in cases at Kumbh Mela

A team of the Health Ministry has reported that nearly 10 to 20 pilgrims and 10 to 20 locals are being reported positive everyday during the ongoing festival.

A team of the Health Ministry has reported that nearly 10 to 20 pilgrims and 10 to 20 locals at the Kumbh Mela, ongoing in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, are being reported COVID-19 positive everyday. Such a rate had the potential to rapidly turn into an ‘upsurge’ of cases.

The Uttarakhand government had also been told that the daily testing numbers being reported in Haridwar, around 50,000 rapid antigen tests and 5000 RT PCR test, were inadequate given the expected number of pilgrims to the Kumbh Mela.

The team, led by Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, National Centres of Disease Control (NCDC) in Delhi, had visited Uttarakhand on March 16 and 17 to review the medical and public health preparedness measures undertaken by the State for the festival.

Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, wrote to the Uttarakhand Chief Secretary, Utpal Kumar Singh, on Sunday, highlighting the concerns raised by the NCDC-led team.

The Uttarakhand government has been advised to “scrupulously follow” the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry such as including display signages, increasing awareness of self-reporting symptoms of cases suggestive of COVID-19, to increase testing, particularly, in potential high transmission areas, continuing the periodic testing of frontline workers before and after key auspicious days of the 30-day festival. Were the number of cases to surge, the State ought to be “promptly sending” samples for genome sequencing.

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