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Top seer dies of Covid-19, 80 others test positive after attending Kumbh Mela

We had around 2,000 positive cases since Monday during random testing of pilgrims at the Kumbh, an official said

Friday April 16, 2021 6:27 PM, ummid.com with inputs from Agencies

Covid Kumbh Mela

New Delhi: A seer has died from COVID-19 and 80 other holy men have tested positive after attending Kumbh Mela - a vast religious festival in Haridwar where millions of pilgrims have been ignoring Covid-19 advice despite a national surge in infections.

The announcement from authorities in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, came as India recorded more than 217,000 fresh cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of new infections to more than two million since April 1.

The festival of Kumbh Mela has long rung alarm bells among health experts who say it could turn into a "super-spreader" as pilgrims return home to their towns and villages all across India.

"Enormous Crowds of Pilgrims"

The enormous crowds of pilgrims -- including cannabis-smoking holy men with dreadlocks -- taking a dip in the river have mostly ignored official advice to maintain distancing.

Earlier this week, Mahamandaleshwar Kapil Dev Das, 65, head of one of the Hindu akhadas or ascetic councils, was admitted to hospital and died from coronavirus on Thursday, news agencyd AFP reported quoting officials.

"We had around 2,000 positive cases since Monday during random testing of pilgrims at the Kumbh," Harbeer Singh, a top festival officer, told AFP.

"We are taking precautions and urging people to adhere to coronavirus prevention behaviours", he added.

The officer said they had ramped up testing at the event's 600-hectare (1,500-acre) site and insisted they were strictly enforcing government protocols, including requiring negative virus certificates.

Two of the 13 Hindu ascetic councils that are part of the major get-together have now pulled out over soaring Covid cases in the city.

The images of huge crowd at Kumbh Mela despite the alarming surge in Coronavirus cases are widely shared in the media, with many questioning the government for allowing such a gathering in the tense situation.

"Why would God save us?"

Several Bollywood personalities have also reacted to the Kumbh Mela being conducted amid the ongoing second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The kumbh mela and political rallies clearly prove that politicians care only about VOTES and not about PEOPLE..In other words they don't care about the people DYING once they cast their votes... SO INTELLIGENT NO? WOWWWW," filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma tweeted on Friday.

"Why would God save us.. ??? if we are just not interested in saving ourselves and our families.. Please Please #StayHomeStaySafe," tweeted Singer Shaan.

"You know what the real bad news is? It's going to get much worse. Election campaigns are peaking. Hundreds of thousands of People from the Kumbh, Haridwar are returning home.
P. R. E. P. A. R. E," filmmaker Anubhav Sinha posted late on Thursday.

"Not sure if I'm more traumatised by videos of the Kumbh and election rallies or by COVID. I think it's the former," veteran actress Soni Razdan tweeted earlier this week.


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