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As Covid super spreader threat looms large, crowd falls by one-third on occasion of third Shahi Snan


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DEHRADUN: With over 13.51 lakh pilgrims taking a holy bath in river Ganga on the occasion of the third Shahi Snan (Royal Bath) on Wednesday, the numbers were cut down to almost one-third of what congregated on April 12 in the second royal bath.

However, Covid safety norms yet again went for a toss in the mega religious event.

On April 12, over 35 pilgrims devotees gathered in Haridwar for bathing in the river Ganga. Coveted as the biggest and most auspicious of the Shahi Snans, it commenced around 5 am and concluded at 6 pm with estimated gatherings of more than 30 lakh people in Haridwar Mahakumbh 2021. 

Sanjay Gunjyal, inspector general, Kumbh said, "All arrangements are in place to ensure smooth course of events without any hassle. We are making sure that no gathering, jam, or stampedes occur in the mela area and around it."

Fears of the mega event becoming a super spreader are being realized now, said experts. 

Anoop Nautiyal from Social Development for Communities which has been analysing Covid data since March 2020 said, "The data shows that Haridwar remains one of the worst affected districts. Millions have visited the city across the country and still are. There is no doubt now that unfortunately, the event has contributed to the pandemic."

Haridwar remains one of the worst affected districts by the pandemic. 

Similar to last Shahi Snan on April 12, no Covid appropriate behaviour was adhered to as thousands gathered on Ganga ghats to take a holy dip in the river.

According to estimates, by 7 am, over 7 lakh people have taken a dip in ghats on the Ganges in the mela area. 

Meanwhile, a statement of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat is going viral in which he says Covid does not affect much in open spaces comparing Markaz gathering of last year to ongoing Mahakumbh.

"You cannot compare Markaz gatherings with Mahakumbh. The Markaz happened in a confined space while the Kumbh is being organized in open space," the CM can be heard saying in a video. 

Uttarakhand witnessed all-time high cases on Wednesday with 1,953 new cases of COVID-19. Out of these, maximum cases were reported with 796 cases followed by Haridwar (525) and Nainital with total 205 new Covid cases. 

With 13 deaths on Wednesday, the recovery rate fell to 87.16% and sample positivity of 3.59%.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)