Kumbh Mela: Millions of pilgrims head to Haridwar, India, to dip in the Ganges River as coronavirus cases surge

As many as 5 million guests had been anticipated to descend on the metropolis Monday — an auspicious day in the ongoing Kumbh Mela non secular pageant, which was delayed this yr due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the pageant, devotees wash away their sins in the river’s sacred waters, that are believed to flip into “amrita” — the nectar of immortality — on auspicious days like Monday.

At least 650,000 individuals had already taken a dip in the river by early Monday, in accordance to police Insp. Gen. Sanjay Gunjyal. Throughout the day, there will likely be an estimated 11,000 to 18,000 individuals in the water at any time, unfold throughout the 15 essential riverbanks, mentioned Mukesh Thakur, a senior police official.

The huge crowds are inflicting concern as India struggles to include a worrying second wave, with cases rising dramatically daily.

“Social distancing is proving very difficult,” Gunjyal mentioned. “If we try to enforce it then it can lead to a stampede — that’s why, despite wanting to, we are unable to implement social distancing at these riverbanks.”

He added authorities had been “continually appealing to people to wear masks and follow Covid-appropriate behavior.”

India reports new record of 103,558 daily Covid cases, as second wave and new lockdowns hitIndia reports new record of 103,558 daily Covid cases, as second wave and new lockdowns hit

India reported 168,912 new cases Monday, its highest single-day determine for the sixth consecutive day, in accordance to information from the nation’s Ministry of Health.

The second wave, which started in March and has quickly accelerated in the previous week, has far surpassed India’s first wave final yr, when at its peak in September each day cases handed 97,000.

Trying to include the danger

In Haridwar, Uttarakhand state, authorities have launched measures to attempt to include the danger throughout Kumbh Mela.

That consists of synthetic intelligence cameras at numerous riverbanks and 15,000 safety personnel deployed to deal with crowd management, Thakur mentioned.

Mass religious festival goes ahead in India, despite Covid fears as country enters second waveMass religious festival goes ahead in India, despite Covid fears as country enters second wave

“The camera has sensors which alert us when the number of cars in parking areas or foot traffic crosses a certain threshold and we can communicate with people on ground to start diverting crowds,” Thakur mentioned. “The cameras also detect if people are not wearing masks and the officers on ground immediately issue tickets to those people.”

However, Gunjyal mentioned it was not possible to challenge tickets to everybody on Monday due to the sheer measurement of the crowds, with pictures exhibiting loads of individuals defying mask-wearing guidelines.

Other restrictions had been aimed toward stopping these carrying the virus from reaching the pageant.

Before getting into Haridwar, all these attending the pageant had to register on-line, and supply a medical certificates confirming their well being standing. Visitors coming from states with surging infections had to present adverse Covid-19 take a look at outcomes, and checkpoints had been arrange at transport hubs to perform random testing on individuals passing by way of.

Still, all these restrictions may not be sufficient to forestall the virus spreading between the lots of individuals consuming, washing, and praying collectively in shut proximity. Haridwar is already beginning to see infections surge; 2,209 cases have been reported in the metropolis since the pageant started on April 1, in accordance to information from the Uttarakhand state well being division.

“The second wave of coronavirus is ongoing in the country … in Uttarakhand as well, the impact of (Covid) has risen, more than 500 cases have started coming in daily,” mentioned Uttarakhand’s police director Ashok Kumar earlier this month, urging individuals to comply with security tips.

“Let us not let it get to a point where we again need a lockdown, as that is harmful to everyone.”


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