In Haridwar’s Kumbh Mela, which ended on Friday, around 70 lakh devotees participated, a PTI report said. The Kumbh Mela, where lakhs gathered, triggered a scare that the religious event might have acted as a “super-spreader” for coronavirus. During the mela, nearly two lakh tests for COVID-19 were conducted by medical personnel and around 2,600 devotees tested positive, PTI reported. 

Despite the huge number of people gathering around Haridwar to take a dip in the holy Ganga, the 2021 Kumbh Mela was scaled down midway, reduced to just one month in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The event, which is generally held over a span of three months, formally begun as late as April 1 this time due to COVID-19. 

The “scaling down” is said to be the first in the history of the mela, which is held once every twelve years in Haridwar.

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Three shahi snans took place during the event, the first two on April 12 and 14, where hundreds were seen flouting COVID-19 norms. However, after concerns, and PM Narendra Modi’s call, the last shahi snan on April 27, was reduced to a largely symbolic event. 

“The situation was challenging for us as the crowd, though relatively smaller this time was big enough to violate the norms of social distancing,” Kumbh’s and Haridwar’s medical chief medical officer, SK Jha said, quoted PTI. 

“The seers were initially reluctant to go for tests but they relented after the second shahi snan on April 14,” he said.

“With the help of healthcare personnel brought from Uttar Pradesh, we conducted a total of 190,083 tests, out of which 2,642 reported positive,” he told PTI.

(With Inputs from PTI)