Haridwar and Rishikesh are emerging as the hotspots of the novel coronavirus infection in Uttarakhand, say experts as the state is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases with several instances of a significant number of tourists testing positive ahead of Kumbh Mela 2021.
The congregation on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar in Uttarakhand will take place from April 1 to 30, with three "shahi snan" (major bathing) dates on April 12, 14 and 27.
In a significant case of COVID-19 infection among tourists, about 76 people tested positive for the virus at a five-star hotel in Rishikesh, which leads the administration to shut down the hotel for three days for sanitisation, reported Hindustan Times.
Earlier, 22 tourists part of a 50 member contingent from Gujarat tested positive for COVID-19 who came to Rishikesh, it said.
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The government has already raised concerns about the recent uptick in cases during Kumbh Mela. The Union Health Ministry has directed the Uttarakhand government to follow all the "stringent measures" to control the spread of the deadly virus during the religious gathering.
In the light of a rising number of cases, experts said that the government needs to “implement the precautions more strictly”.
“The surge in the cases again in the state is a big worry,” Anoop Nautiyal, a social activist who had been keeping an eye on the COVID-19 situation in Uttarakhand since lockdown told the publication.
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The government has to take the surge in COVID-19 cases seriously and make the people adhere to precautions as it took in the lockdown in 2020, especially in Rishikesh and Haridwar, Nautiyal suggested.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar administered an oath to over 10,000 police personnel and paramilitary staff on the banks of the Ganga in Haridwar on March 28 to conduct a safe and grand Kumbh Mela while behaving decently with the devotees. The paramilitary staff included those from CRPF and ITBP. The Uttarakhand Police chief asked the personnel deployed on Kumbh duty to conduct the event successfully while ensuring strict compliance to the COVID-19 protocol.
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The state government has made it mandatory for devotees to bring a negative RT-PCR report not older than 72 hours for attending the event.