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As many as 2,167 people were found positive for Covid-19 in Haridwar -- the place where the month-long Kumbh Mela is going on -- in the last five days, confirming fears that one of the world's largest religious gatherings may contribute further to the rapid rise in infections.

According to the Uttarakhand State Control Room, there were 254 Covid-19 positive cases on 10 April, 386 on 11 April, 408 on 12 April, 594 on 13 April and 525 on 14 April.

Medical workers conducted 2,36,751 tests over the five-day period in the mela site. Out of these, 1,701 came out positive for Covid-19, according to a PTI report.

The numbers include both RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test reports of devotees and seers of different akharas (ascetic groups) over the five-day period in the entire mela site extending from Haridwar to Devprayag, Haridwar's Chief Medical Officer Shambhu Kumar Jha said today.

Kumbh Mela will continue till 30 April

Officials have, meanwhile, said that despite a record surge in Covid-19 cases in the country, the Kumbh Mela will continue till 30 April.

"Kumbh Mela used to begin in January but looking at the Covid-19 situation, the state government decided to start this in April. The Centre's SOP said that in the wake of the situation the period (of Mela) be reduced. I have no information if it's being curtailed," Haridwar District Magistrate and Kumbh Mela officer Deepak Rawat has said.

The Kumbh Mela area is spread over 670 hectares covering parts of Haridwar, Tehri and Dehradun districts, including Rishikesh.

48.51 lakh people seen openly violating Covid rules

A majority of the 48.51 lakh people who took part in the last two 'royal baths' (shahi snan) held on the occasion of Somwati Amavasya on 12 April and Mesh Sankranti on 14 April were seen openly violating coronavirus protocols like wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.

Around 14 lakh devotees took a holy dip in the River Ganga at the Haridwar Mahakumbh on Wednesday on the occasion of Baisakhi Shahi Snan, the third royal bath in this Kumbh.

Serious questions are being raised over the decision to continue with the Kumbh Mela, as India reported over two lakh fresh cases today, the highest-ever spike since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat had said earlier that there is no comparison between the event held at Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi last year and Kumbh in Haridwar as the former was held in a closed space while the latter is being held in a vast open area.

"There is no comparison between Markaz and Kumbh. Markaz was in a closed hall. All the people slept in a single hall with close contacts. They shared blankets. On the contrary, there are 16 ghats in Kumbh. Not just Haridwar, Kumbh is spread from Rishikesh to Nilkanth. Devotees take bath in different ghats at different times," CM Rawat had said.

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