New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Around 2,300 people have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in the Haridwar Kumbh Mela area in the last 5 days confirming fears that one of the largest religious gatherings may contribute further to the rapid rise in coronavirus cases.

Medical workers conducted 2,36,751 tests between April 10 and April 14. Out of these, 1,701 came out positive for coronavirus. 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.

The state government is yet to decide on calling off the event in wake of the alarming spike in daily COVID-19 cases at the Kumbh Mela. As per reports, it may conclude the event if a proposal comes from Akhada Parishad.

Meanwhile, the Tirath Singh Rawat-led government has imposed night curfew in the state from Thursday night. He will take a stock of the Covid-19 situation on Friday evening to take a call on weekend curfew and stringent night curfew.

Niranjani Akhada, one of the 13 akhadas of seers participating in the Haridwar Kumbh, on Thursday decided to opt out of the event because of the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in the state.

Besides Niranjani Akhara, Anand Akhara has also joined in to conclude Kumbh from Saturday.

"The main Shahi Snan held on the occasion of Mesh Sankranti on April 14 is over. Many in our akhada are showing Covid-19 symptoms. So, for us the Kumbh Mela is over," Niranjani Akhada secretary Ravindra Puri said.

“Due to the growing number of Covid cases, Haridwar is not in good shape. Seers associated with the Akhara have been advised to leave for their destinations on Saturday, April 17, after taking snan (in Ganga River),” he added.

Around 30 sadhus have tested positive for COVID-19, including Mahant Narendra Giri, the leader of the All India Akhada Parishad, who has been admitted to the AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) in Rishikesh.

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 April 12 and Mesh Sankranti on April 14 were seen openly violating COVID norms like wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.

Despite their best efforts, the police could not impose the standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the seers of akharas and the ash-smeared ascetics thronging Har Ki Pairi ghat on the two major bathing days due to severe time constraints.

As the 13 akharas had to take their holy dip at Har ki Pairi in accordance with their allotted time slots before sunset, the police and paramilitary personnel were hard-pressed to ensure each of them vacated the ghat before the arrival of the next akhara in line to prevent chaos.

As seers were averse to undergoing RT-PCR tests till the Mesh Sankranti Shahi Snan of April 14, both testing and inoculation in the Kumbh Kshetra including the areas allocated to the akharas are likely to be stepped up in the coming days.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta