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Keep Kumbh mela 'symbolic' from now on, says PM; event already a super spreader

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has requested religious leaders to keep the Kumbh mela symbolic from now on as two Shahi Snans have already taken place. This will strengthen the fight against the pandemic, he said. (ANI)Premium
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has requested religious leaders to keep the Kumbh mela symbolic from now on as two Shahi Snans have already taken place. This will strengthen the fight against the pandemic, he said. (ANI)

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday had a telephonic conversation with Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Poojya Swamy Avdheshanand Giri Ji, a Haridwar based religious guru and asked about the health of all the sants

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the Sant Samaj to keep the Kumbh mela in Haridwar, Uttarakhand 'symbolic' from now on to limit the spread of coronavirus, as the covid-19 case count neared 2.5 lakh on Saturday.

Since its start from 1 April, the largest religious congregation this year, being tagged as a 'super spreader' event, has pushed the number of daily covid cases in Uttarakhand to 2,000-2,500 compared, to February when the state was reporting 30-60 cases per day. The holy city of Haridwar, which is hosting the mega event, is also recording 600 cases daily on an average. The event has also put Uttarakhand in the list of 'focus states'—16 states that are having an upward trend in case trajectory—for covid-19 containment by the Union health ministry.

Prime Minister Modi had a telephonic conversation with Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Poojya Swamy Avdheshanand Giri Ji, a Haridwar-based religious guru, on Saturday and enquired about the health of all the sants. The PM has requested to keep the Kumbh mela symbolic from now on as two Shahi Snans have already taken place. This will strengthen the fight against the pandemic, he said. The seer, in a respecting the PM's request, has asked devotees not come to Haridwar for snan in large numbers. The seer has asked devotees to follow covid appropriate behaviour and other rules, the PM's Office said in a statement.

Despite warnings from the Centre that the Kumbh mela has the potential spark a resurgence of covid-19 cases in the country, Uttarakhand chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat had earlier defended the religious congregation. He had asked people not to compare the mela to the Nizamuddin Markaz which was held in a closed space, in a Kothi-like structure. The Kumbh is being held in the open on sprawling ghats of the Ganga, Rawat had said.

Now, as Uttarakhand witnesses a constant rise in Covid-19 cases, following the PM's statement, the CM on Saturday also requested devotees to help combat the coronavirus transmission in the state and not come for mela.

The ongoing Mahakumbh in Haridwar is attracting about 1-2 million people on a regular day and about 5-6 million people attending the mela on auspicious (snan) days. In March, the Centre government had warned the Uttarakhand government of a potential surge in covid-19 cases among the local populace in Haridwar after the auspicious Shahi Snan (royal bath) days during the ongoing Kumbh Mela. While over 6 lakh people took a dip on Wednesday alone, around 1,200 people have already tested positive for covid in Haridwar in the last two days.

The Union health ministry had warned that mass gathering events, such as the Kumbh mela, have the potential to facilitate the transmission of the virus and potentially disrupt the gains made by the country in managing the virus' spread.

India’s daily new case count continues to rise. In the last 24 hours, 2,34,692 new cases have been registered. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have reported 79.32% of the new cases, shows Union health ministry data.

Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new case count at 63,729, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 27,360 cases and Delhi with 19,486 new cases, according to the government.

India’s total active caseload has reached 16,79,740, which now comprises 11.56% of the country's total positive cases. A net incline of 1,09,997 cases was recorded from the total active caseload in the last 24 hours, according to Union health ministry data.

The states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala cumulatively account for 65.02% of India’s total active cases. Maharashtra alone accounts for 38.09% of the total active caseload of the country, the government said.

In the last 24 hours, 1,341 deaths have been reported. Ten states account for 85.83% of the new deaths. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties at 398, followed by Delhi with 141 daily deaths.

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