Negative COVID RT-PCR test report mandatory for Kumbh Mela: Health Ministry
As per the Ministry's SOPs, all individuals must maintain a minimum distance of about 6 feet in public places during the Kumbh Mela.
The Union Ministry on April 12, 2021 issued Standard Operating Procedures on preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 during Kumbh Mela. Under the guidelines, a negative COVID RT-PCR test report has been mandatory for devotees to enter the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.
The COVID RT-PCR test should be done 72 hours before the date of visit to the Mela site. All those falling under vulnerable age group such as those above 65 years, children below 10 years, pregnant women and those with underlying comorbid conditions have been discouraged to attend the Kumbh Mela.
Health Ministry's SOPs: Key Highlights
•As per the Ministry's SOPs, all individuals must maintain a minimum distance of about 6 feet in public places during the Kumbh Mela.
•Use of face masks or face covers has been made mandatory.
•Uttarakhand state government has been asked to establish hand washing stations in public utility areas and ensure the availability of soap and water.
•The use of foot-operated taps and contactless soap dispensers has been made mandatory.
•Besides this, spitting has been strictly prohibited in the Kumbha.
•The Kumbh Mela Administration has been asked to identify spatial boundaries of the Mela site and prepare a detailed site plan to facilitate compliance with thermal screening, physical distancing and proper sanitization.
•There will be multiple entry and exits for the devotees.
•Events such as exhibitions, fairs and prayer meetings will be restricted and regulated as much as possible.
•The seating arrangements in the pandals, food courts and prayer meetings will also ensure adequate social distancing.
COVID appropriate behaviour surveillance
The state government will be deploying adequate public health teams to the Mela site and will set up a surveillance system in accordance with the surveillance and response plan for epidemic-prone diseases with a focus on COVID-19.
The state has also been asked to substantially increase its bed capacity and mega-size temporary hospitals comprising 1000 beds will be established.
The Health Ministry's SOPs for the Kumbh Mela come in the wake of a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases across the country. India reported 1,61,736 new #COVID19 cases and 879 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per Union Health Ministry. This takes India's total COVID tally to 1, 36,89,453 confirmed cases, which includes 12,64,698 active cases, 1,22,53,697 recoveries and 1,71,058 deaths.
The second wave of coronavirus has forced several states to impose local curfews and lockdowns. Some states have also raised concerns over depleting stocks of COVID-19 vaccines. India has so far administered 10,85,33,085 doses of the COVID vaccine.
Despite such a serious COVID-19 situation in India, almost 31 lakh people took 'shahi snan' or holi dip in the Ganges River during the Kumbh Mela on April 12, 2021 violating all COVID-19 norms, raising concerns of a COVID super spreader event.