The Center has asked the Uttarakhand government to take stringent measures to control the spread of COVID-19 during Kumbh Mela, after a high-level central team visited the state and reported 10 to 20 pilgrims are testing positive daily.
The state has been informed that the daily testing numbers reported in Haridwar are not enough. Currently, 50,000 rapid antigen tests and 5,000 RT-PCR tests are being conducted.
It has been advised that RT-PCR tests being conducted at present need to be significantly increased as per the ICMR guidelines to ensure that the pilgrims and local population are appropriately tested.
Amid the rising COVID-19 numbers in the country, the duration of Kumbh Mela has been shortened this year to 30 days and is being organsise between April 1-30.
Three ‘shahi snans’ will also be performed in April.
In a letter to Uttarakhand Chief Secretary, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan highlighted the concerns raised by the NCDC led team.
The state government is advised to undertake these measures:
– Follow scrupulously the SOPs issued by MoHFW and display signages to disseminate the main points of these SoPs.
– Increase awareness of self-reporting, especially among the local population, in case of symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
– Set up system for generating early warning signals in areas with the susceptible population by monitoring trend of ARI/ ILI cases through Emergency Operational Centres.
– Target significantly enhanced testing in potential high transmission areas.
– Continue periodic testing of frontline workers before and after auspicious 'snan' days of the Kumbh.
– Ensure operationalisation of adequate critical care treatment facilities.
– Effective risk communication, by using all forms of media platforms, for strict adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour.
– In case of a surge in cases/super spreader events, promptly send samples for genome sequencing in consultation with NCDC.