As Haridwar Gears Up For Next ‘Shahi Snan’, Conducting Covid Tests On Seers Emerges as A Major Concern

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With the surge in Covid cases in Haridwar, the health officials are finding themselves helpless on the front of getting the Covid test done on thousands of seers residing in different Akharas, Hindu monasteries. The holy city will witness sea of seers again on Wednesday when they will come out to take a holy bath in the Ganga River at Har-Ki-Pauri on the second 'Shahi Snan' of Kumbh.

The officials took stock of the preparations of the next auspicious bath falling on April 14. On the first 'Shahi Snan' of the ongoing Kumbh Mela, officials claimed that around 3.2 million took a dip in the Ganga River. However, when asked Deepak Rawat, the Kumbh Mela official who is steering the preparation, said they were still in the process of collecting details from different sources including local parking lots in a bid to verify the 3.2 million figure. He said officials will make sure the second bath passes off smoothly.

"Nevertheless during mass gatherings it is not impossible to adhere to Covid protocols," Rawat added when quizzed on adhering to Covid protocols.

Meanwhile in the last 48 hours, 10 seers of different Akharas have been tested positive for Covid-19. The head of the Akhara Parishad, Narendra Giri, who was tested positive on Sunday was rushed to AIIMS Rishikesh after he complained of breathlessness.

According to the state health report, 1,925 new Covid cases have been reported in the State on Tuesday. Haridwar reported 595 cases, while maximum 775 cases came from Dehradun. And 13 people have died in the last 24 hours.

Amid growing Covid cases, the officials admitted they were facing difficulty in convincing seers to undergo tests. There are 13 Akharas in Haridwar where thousands of seers stay. Dr Arjun Sengar, Chief Medical Officer (Kumbh Mela), told News18 they try their best to convince but still seers are not "very cooperative".

He claimed Haridwar administration was conducting to the tune of 50,000 Covid tests daily as directed by the Uttarakhand High Court. However, the State health report did not approve the claim made by Mela health officials. Report says 36,773 tests were conducted across the State. The CMO could not clarify why the State health data does not show the figure of 50,000 tests as claimed by them.

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