50,000 to be tested for Covid at the Maha Kumbh site

Uttarakhand administration is launching a mega Covid test drive starting Saturday in the Haridwar city, covering around 50,000 people a day amid reports of increasing Covid-19 cases among seers and others attending the Maha Kumbh.

The state health department will mainly conduct RT-PCR tests. The drive will cover seers, devotees, eatery owners, frontline workers including security personnel and the general public.

The drive is being planned to start five days after the first shahi snan (royal bath) of the Kumbh, since Covid symptoms usually appear a few days after the coronavirus enters the body.

Apart from this massive drive, the administration is conducting tests on a regular basis.

The testing will focus on the 13 Akahras that have a good presence of seers. Several seers, including Akhara Parsihad president Sri Mahant Narendra Giri, have tested positive for Covid-19.

“Most of the police personnel were vaccinated with both doses before joining their Kumbh duty,” Janmejay Khanduri, special superintendent of police in charge of the Kumbh event, told ET.

Apart from around 40 companies of central paramilitary forces and 10 companies of Uttarakhand armed constabulary, about 1,400 personnel of the civil police are camping in Haridwar, police sources said.

SK Jha, chief medical officer of Haridwar, said the health department was getting services from around 12 private labs, apart from government facilities, to conduct the tests.

Meanwhile, Sri Panchayati Akhara Niranjani has decided to call off its participation from the Kumbha on April 17.

Reports reaching here from Haridwar said the crowds have also shrunk in the mela zone.

“Occupancy in Haridwar-based hotels is not more than 30% currently. The number of devotees in the camps of different Akahras is also less than our expectation,” a person in the know in Haridwar said.

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