NEW DELHI, KOMPAS.com – Millions of Hindus bathed in India’s Ganges river earlier this week to participate in one of the Kumbh Mela rituals.
After that, hundreds of people who attended the ritual, including nine religious leaders, tested positive for Covid-19 in Haridwar city, Uttarakhand.
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On Tuesday (13/4/2021), India reported 184,372 new cases of Covid-19, the highest daily spike in the country. BBC, Wednesday (14/4/2021).
Many have criticized the government for allowing the ritual to continue amid the raging pandemic.
Hindus in India believe that the Ganges river is sacred, and swimming into the water will cleanse them of their sins and bring them salvation.
– ANI (@ANI) April 14, 2021
Police officials said they were struggling to enforce safety protocols because of the large crowd on the riverbank.
The officer leading the ritual Covid-19 testing, Kumbh Mela, told BBC that of the more than 20,000 samples collected in the area on Tuesday, 110 of them tested positive for Covid-19.
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On Monday (12/4/2021), 184 people who followed the ritual tested positive. Some of them have been isolated. Others have been transferred to hospitals in Haridwar city.
Arjun Sengar, a health officer at Kumbh Mela, said that nine religious leaders also tested positive for Covid-19.
Chairman Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad (ABAP) Narendra Giri also tested positive for the corona virus.
Haridwar: Crowds surging at #KumbhMela as India overtakes Brazil in Covid cases.
Officials say they are struggling to impose safety norms due to huge crowds.https://t.co/vkpTqgPGs9 pic.twitter.com/iA1zlyS591
— BBC News India (@BBCIndia) April 12, 2021
He has been admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which is the leading general hospital, in Haridwar city.
Akhilesh Yadav, former Chief Minister of the State of Uttar Pradesh, also tested positive for Covid-19.
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He visited Haridwar on Sunday (11/4/2021) and met several saints, including Giri.
On Tuesday, Haridwar recorded 594 new Covid-19 cases. This brings the total active cases in the region to 2,812 cases.
For two days, Monday to Tuesday, more than 1,000 new cases were recorded in the region.
The government has been criticized for allowing the ritual to take place even as India recorded a huge spike in daily cases.
Health experts have appealed for the Kumbh Mela to be canceled, but the government has gone on to say that safety protocols will be followed.
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Uttarakhand State Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat told the media they were following the health ministry’s guidelines and the recovery rate was good.
“Arrangements are also adequate to deal with any situation. Mother Ganga’s blessings are in the stream (river). So there cannot be a corona (virus),” Rawat said as quoted by the news agency YEARS.
Previously, the government said that only people who tested negative for Covid-19 would be allowed to follow rituals and strict measures such as social distancing would be implemented.
However, reports say that the government is confused about maintaining health protocols because many people have followed the ritual without showing negative results.
Video footage uploaded by YEARS pointed out that many people by the river were not wearing masks.
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The second wave of Covid-19 is wreaking havoc across India.
Reports of shortages of hospital beds, medicine and medical oxygen are starting to arrive from various states in India.
The state of Maharashtra, which has been hardest hit by the coronavirus, announced tougher restrictions late Tuesday.
Chief Minister of State Maharashtra Thackeray said that over the next 15 days, only essential services will operate.
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