Health Ministry raises safety questions ahead of Kumbh
A Health Ministry statement read, “According to the findings of the team, Uttarakhand has been asked to increase the number of Covid tests in accordance with ICMR guidelines to ensure that pilgrims and the local population are properly screened.”
On Sunday, the Centre directed Uttarakhand to take strict actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the Kumbh Mela, which is expected to attract pilgrims from all over the nation. After evaluating medical treatment and public health arrangements for the Kumbh Mela, a high-level team sent to the hill state raised questions.
ANI reported that Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan wrote to the Uttarakhand Chief Secretary highlighting concerns raised by the high-level Central team that was sent in to assess the health safety protocols at Kumbh, and about the ‘need for stringent measures to control the spread of Covid during Kumbh Mela.’
A Health Ministry statement read, “According to the findings of the team, Uttarakhand has been asked to increase the number of Covid tests in accordance with ICMR guidelines to ensure that pilgrims and the local population are properly screened.” Frontline worker monitoring before and after auspicious ‘snan’, successful risk communication, and increased testing in areas with a high risk of transmission were also among some other prevention measures that were suggested to the Uttarakhand government.
The Health Ministry pointed out that, “As per the report of the Central team, 10-20 pilgrims and 10-20 locals are being reported positive every day. This positivity rate has the potential to rapidly turning to an upsurge in cases, given the expected large footfall during Kumbh."
The statement by the Health Ministry comes in stark contrast to Uttarakhand Chief Minister’s decision on Saturday to eliminate the provision for visitors to the Kumbh to provide a negative Covid-19 test result. Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat said,“I invite all devotees across the world to come to Haridwar and take a holy dip in the Ganga during the Mahakumbh. Nobody will be stopped in the name of Covid-19, as we are sure the faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus.”