Haridwar, which is hosting the Mahakumbh Mela amid a second wave of the COVID-19, logged in 594 fresh infections on the 13th day of festivities on Tuesday (April 13) as devotees thronged the banks of the Ganges to take holy dips. The pilgrim city had reported 408 cases on Monday.
The active cases of the city now stands at 2,812. The state has reported 1,925 COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths in the past 24 hours alone.
Wednesday witnessed another gigantic crowd along the river bank as devotees took dips in the water on the occasion of ‘Shahi Snan’ (royal bath). Four Shahi Snans and nine Ganga Snan are scheduled in Haridwar this year.
Even though the country reeling under a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, is hit by a shortage of vaccines and health infrastructure, nearly a million of devotees from several parts of the country have thronged the city to participate in the Kumbh Mela.
According to reports nearly 35 lakh people had gathered at the banks of the Ganges to take part in the second Shahi Snan on Monday, while violating Health Ministry protocols (the first was held on Maha Shivratri on March 11). Several people were seen without masks and following no social distancing at the ghats of Haridwar.
Apart from devotees, seers from 13 Akhadas, have arrived in the city to attend the Mahakumbh Mela.
Many have defended the violations by stating that those entering Haridwar have already produced negative RT-PCR test results and thus need not abide by protocols. Many others have said that despite government mandate to follow COVID-appropriate behavior at ghats and places of worship, it is practically impossible to do so because of the mammoth crowd the festival has drawn.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat urged people to follow COVID appropriate behavior during the third Shahi Snan on Wednesday. The administration has slotted different timings for each Akahara for holy dip at Har Ki Pauri while leaving the rest of the ghats open for other devotees.
The Kumbh Mela, a vital festival of the Hindu community, is being held in Haridwar from April 1 to 30. It is usually held for three months.
Uttarakhand so far has reported 1,12,071 COVID-19 cases and 1,780 deaths so far.
India on Wednesday reported 1.8 lakh fresh cases, the highest single-day spike so far.